Civil Rights: Can We Focus Less on Marching and ‘The Struggle?’

I have seen trailers for upcoming movies to be released in the next few months. I see superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, fairy tales, feel-good biographies and we are marching for civil rights…



Do not misunderstand my words. With all due respect, I have deep appreciation for my mother’s generation. They marched, they sat at the lunch counters, were subjected to police dogs, fire hoses and the hate of southern (and northern) whites who did not want them to have equality. However, I am tired of these rehashes of movies about Martin Luther King. I think I have seen almost all – if not all – the movies that have been created about this time in our history. I know firsthand how important that time was. I find myself experiencing a myriad of emotions every time I see the horrible mistreatment, the racial slurs and blatant injustice they experienced. I appreciate what they did and because of them, I was able to get a library card a few days ago – something that was illegal for my mother and her mother and father to do without the risk of being KILLED. Because of their sacrifices, I enjoy certain freedoms they did not have. My stance is, is that all there is to us??? Are there no other stories to tell? What have we done with what they sacrificed to make possible for us?

When I first mentioned this on my social media page, some agreed with my stance and others felt like I was being dismissive of that legacy. I assure you, I am not. We can never forget. We must continue to talk about it. Some I have spoken to are finding this generation is very ignorant of what that generation contributed and they take what they have for granted. They are outraged at the lack of children who are informed about this fight for civil rights and feel strongly the story needs to keep being told.

And I agree 100%.
But again, I ask, is that all there is to us?

While we must ALWAYS honor and respect what those who went before us did, BUT the time of ROMANTICIZING and REHASHING this has to come to an end. There is a place for this story, but it is not the only story. It seems the only history that Hollywood is comfortable having us relive is from some subservient position as SLAVES, SERVANTS or CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTERS. That is not all there is to us and never will be. Am I saying never speak of it again? Of course not!!! I am asking that we tell the other stories that need to be told and some of those stories made Freedom Summer possible. What are these other stories? Well I am glad you asked, some of these stories that need to be told include:

  1. Madame CJ Walker – businesswoman and first Black female millionaire who implemented the direct marketing format that Mary Kay utilized decades later.
  2. Ida B Wells – who was instrumental in decreasing lynchings in the south by going over to Europe and showing them photographs of what the south was doing. England other European countries began to boycott cotton.
  3. Queen Charlotte – was from the royal family of Spain and is an ancestor of the reigning Queen Elizabeth II.
  4. Claudette Colvin – it was actually her lawsuit that desegregated the buses, not Rosa Parks, whom the movement thought was a better “representative” for the cause. Claudette was also one of the first to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat at the start the movement.
  5. Alexandre Dumas – who wrote “The Three Musketeers”, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” etc., or about Alexandre’s father, General Alex Dumas who served under Napoleon and was the inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo.
  6. Chevalier de Saint-Georges – the Black composer who was dubbed “the black Mozart”, who had jam sessions with Marie Antoinnette at her request.
  7. Steve Muhamad – the martial arts master that Bruce Lee said had the fastest hands martial arts.
  8. Anne Lowe – the woman who designed Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress and was one of the main fashion designers of her day that designed wedding and debutante dresses for “old money” families of the 20th century.
  9. Bass Reeves – the inspiration behind “The Lone Ranger”.
  10. Warren G. Harding– this former president of the United States was Black and Republican!

Did you know about Black Wall Street?  How many know that the Germans set up concentration camps in Africa almost 50 years before they went after the Jews in Germany in the 1930’s. I could go on, but you get the point. There are so many stories that have not been told that need to be told. We are not one-trick ponies; we are people that  have a history that is rich, diverse, and goes beyond Selma, Alabama, the fire hoses, the lunch counter sit-ins and the fight for the vote.

The time has come to keep “I have a dream” in mind but implement, I HAVE A PLAN. The best way to honor their legacy and build upon the foundation they helped lay is to create BETTER and not rehash and romanticize the same story over and over and over again. We must never forget, but we must create new chapters to the story for future generations to tell and assure past generations that we did not waste their sacrifices and their investment was not in vain.

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