After such an energetic week such that last week was, and with the climax leading up to the protest of the #Inauguration and of course #WomensMarch which took generations of all colors, all backgrounds, from countries far and near, in all major cities and small ones, and at least 50 states, we all took to the streets together proving that we are stronger together. We are Fierce: We are Plentiful and we are only just getting started.
I have to admit that the #Resistance has given me strength, but you and your efforts to show up and show out are contributing more than you can imagine. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different, we can overcome all of this. I was feeling a bit drained though, I have to say. Watching our new leadership taking the stage with their ways of diverting attention from truth: I’m truly worried for us – I need to you know that we must not give up and we must commit to what we believe in. Everything we thought would happen is going to start to take motion and it is our job to stop it. Do you feel me? It has become your job to stop, block, prevent, stand in the way of evil and not allow it to take place.
Something has been drawing me back to the 1961 Freedom Riders and their commitment to desegregate busses by committing to riding them into segregated hateful areas and standing up for what they believed in. Even though the Supreme Court had ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional, the South did not agree and were not compliant. And you know what? Those racist Southerners were not going to put up with desegregated buses. So the people who were fighters, who were braver than we might understand braveness today because they were riding into almost certain death situations to fight for the right to ride the bus as equal human beings, almost died for upholding their constitutional right. Uniting across all color lines then and standing together in the face of adversity.
Watching Oprah’s special story (and I have to say I don’t typically watch her so maybe people already have these sentiments) moved me in a new unexplained way. Seeing the Freedom Riders reunited NOW, after the span of my mere lifetime, while I was growing and learning and readying for my time to fight, truly was heartwarming. It was also horribly saddening to hear how they were attacked and it makes me wonder how far we will stoop under a #TrumpRegime.
I was really taken a back. Her piece mixed with Tamron Hall’s commentary seemed something like a racial commentary that spanned the entirety of my life only in small snippets and excerpts. Just as I was entering Kindergarten Oprah had been on the air for just 6 months and convinced her producers to let her go to Forsyth County a hotbed for extreme racial tension against people like her, but she needed to use her platform to open eyes. Growing up in Los Angeles I can’t say that ever knew the rest of the world could have been anything like what she uncovered. Watching the images, listening to the chants of the people of Forsyth…it is such a harsh juxtaposition to what protests of today look like. Thinking about what yesterday looked like alone, and the million+ people that showed up for Los Angeles’ #WomensMarch I’m starting to understand why my politically active parents and political activist also political refugee grand parents had to pave the way for change. But why sometimes that can lead to fear for what that fight might start to look like down the line.
Yet, in a room full of so much fear and hatred one white woman had the courage to go against the current and said at 3:13 in the video if you want to skip to it:
“I’m very upset…It is a time for change, there’s nothing we can do about it…Black and White together in Forsyth County.”
I played it over and over, wiping back tears it’s hard to put myself in the shoes of any of these people. Looking at that room, and her face, I don’t think anyone would have been able to guess that she would be open minded and yearning for change; that she would stand up on national television and tell her entire county that it was time to embrace change and black people as humans when they were so hateful towards them. It took guts, and she really spoke to me today 30 years later.
The battle has begun, but I find solace knowing that the battle began quite some time ago. It has been on going, at some points with greater challenges and deeper valleys to climb from, while others cheering and celebrating from the rooftops. We have been making so much progress just in the span of our lifetime or our parent’s lifetimes that it would be a disservice to say that the battle is only just beginning because the people who have died fighting for the lives we get to enjoy today or who sit in jail with no reprieve because they made a stand: each step along the way contributes to the marathon that is long term social change where human beliefs about other humans start to change and openness finds a way into the conversation. That is the luxury we can take with us into our battle now that it is our turn to fight.
Images from the 1961 Freedom Riders Activism:
Buses set on fire while angry mobs held doors trapping people inside to die or beat them if they escaped: