Several 50-year anniversaries relating to the Civil Rights movement have been marked recently – some good and some sad. The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was August 28th. Just a few days ago, September 15th, was the anniversary of the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, where 4 young girls were killed.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, I went to see the movie “The Butler.” The movie reminded me of the human costs of the fight for civil rights during the 60’s and 70’s, as well as the positive changes that were made. The anniversary of the church bombing is another reminder of the costs.
Much has been published lately on the opinion page about racism and recent events, and one letter to the editor talked about “left-wing extremists” dividing our Country with all this talk about race.
How can we honor the sacrifices made during the civil rights movement, and applaud like the folks in the theater did after the movie I attended, and not be willing to even discuss the racism still present in our society? The problem goes beyond individual cases and situations – racism is, unfortunately, imbedded in our culture and our institutions.
I know it is daunting to think about what needs to change to make our laws, and how they are applied, truly fair and just. But that change can start with each one of us if we recognize that transformations need to be made and start with making them happen locally. The human rights agenda should be something we all embrace. Why can’t ending racism be an American agenda?