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Those on front line in freedom struggle carry the slackers

Some people always see the glass as half full: others view that same glass as half empty. It is a time worn cliché that speaks to perspectives. By nature, there are natural born pessimists and irrepressible optimists. This has been the case from the beginning of time and will always be our reality.

During the Civil Rights Era, some Negroes were afraid to get involved in protests. Some feared for their lives. Others were more reluctant out of the threat to their livelihood. While neither group was helpful to the movement, they weren’t as bad as those who simply didn’t care, or believed our oppression wasn’t so bad.

The greatest oxymoron ever, is a tie between “kind slave master” and “contented slave.” There were simply people in bondage not willing to pay the price for freedom and others for whom no price was too high. Perspectives. Naturally, that dynamic persists long after shackles were removed.

Some people accept second-class citizenship even overtly, constantly putting themselves down along with their brothers and sisters or sadly but simply believe the white man is somehow innately superior. Neither is true or acceptable. Both viewpoints are dangerous and self-destructive.

So consequently, the struggle is complicated by varying perspectives folk bring to the same reality. It is an arduous task getting people on the same page even though they are going through virtually the same experience.

I remember Reverend Jesse Jackson saying that while people of all races came from around the country for the March on Washington in 1963, there were some Negroes on U Street, right across from the Lincoln Monument, who refused to cross the street and uttered they would be glad when “the man” runs them out of town. Perspectives.

While the movement is glorified after the fact, history tells us only 20 percent of Black people actually put themselves in harm’s way to fight for freedom. And yet the other 80 percent reap the rewards of the toil, strife and sacrifice. Why do you think Dr. King had to engage so many children to participate in protest facing police dogs, Billy clubs and fire hoses.

Nothing is ever conceded by oppressors without a fight. Assume your life will consist of resistance, persistence and insistence for what God has in store for true believers. When people tell you what has never been done, boldly proclaim you might be the first. Even when the odds are against us, keep on pushing. When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest.

At every level, soldiers in the struggle persevere even today, sellouts notwithstanding. For every Tim Scott of South Carolina or Justice Clarence Thomas out there, Black people will always have a Stacey Abrams or Barack Obama. There will always be those cut from the mold of icons like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Shirley Chisholm, Dick Gregory, James Baldwin, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thurgood Marshall.

Our perspectives guide our thoughts, words and actions. We have choices: expediency or altruism. We can choose the short-sighted, myopic view of what “could be” or the boundless vision of those who truly believe all things are possible.

Choose the latter and let your perspective be that the glass is half full. Or think even more daringly, reminding yourself and cynics that the glass is refillable. Don’t ever give up or give in.

Vernon A. Williams
Vernon A. Williams

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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