To quote the great Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress…
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” In 1776 13 colonies won independence from British rule. Upon this independence, the Founding Fathers created a document known as the Declaration of Independence that declared “All men are created equal.” The flaw in this revered statement is that it did not apply to African Americans because, at that time, it was written in the Constitution that we were considered to be only three-fifths of a human being.
For 400 years we have fought, we have bled, we have wept, we have struggled, and countless have died in the name of freedom, justice, and equality. The same country that revels in its mantra of “liberty and justice for all” is the same country that bombed the thriving African American community known as Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the same country that was designated as “land of the free and home of the brave,” is the same country that allowed its citizens to have public lynchings after Sunday church services, the same country that stands behind the firm assertion of due process of the law is the same country that allowed Roy Bryant and J.W Milam to drag 14-year-old Emmett Till out of his home and brutally murder him- while ultimately being acquitted for the heinuius crime by an all white jury; the same country that is said to be one of hope and opportunity is the same country that allowed four members of the United Klans of America to bomb the16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, which resulted in the deaths of four young girls- Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair; and the same country that shoots off fireworks to celebrate its independence and freedom, is the same country that allowed an officer in blue to kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while staring defiantly into the face of a camera.
As a result of that horrendous and defiant action, a spark was lit that has yet to be contained. People of all races have flocked to the streets to protest centuries of hate, oppression, injustice, and beratement that has stymied the full progression of African Americans. While white Americans have had the luxury to fully indulge in what has been coined the “American Dream,” African Americans have been denied their full rights that were established in the Constitution that “all” American citizens were entitled to. All promises that were made were never kept; from the simple agreement of giving our descendants 40 acres and a mule for the free labor that was provided to this country from 1619 to 1865 and beyond, to the promise of equal representation in the halls of justice, between the walls of Congress, and a seat at the president’s table.
The weight of oppression on a people will only go on for so long. Eventually, something will create a spark that will generate enough energy to lift that weight off our necks.
8 minutes and 46 seconds ignited a movement. On May 25, 2020, police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the back of the neck of George Floyd. Despite wails of saying “I can’t breathe” “they gonna kill me,” and crying out to his deceased mother for help, Chauvin never lifted the pressure off of Floyd’s neck, and shamelessly leered into the camera as George Floyd took his last breath. The nation was stunned and the flame of justice that had been smoldered by evilness for so long, finally erupted. Our cries for justice, once again, have finally reached the mountaintop.
We have suffered long enough; we have endured pain, hardship, heartache, and disillusionment. On that day, we said NO MORE!
For African Americans, there can no longer be hot dogs, hamburgers, and fireworks masking what we were truly denied on Independence Day: freedom and justice for all.
We are still fighting for our Independence Day. #WeAreGenZ