It’s time for this generation to step up

Published 8:31am Saturday, November 16, 2013

This week I was given the privilege and the honor of learning more about the journey to civil rights in Selma from the mouth of a man who was an instrumental to the movement.

I had the great opportunity of interviewing Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese on two separate occasions. My conversations with him Sunday and Wednesday about his impact in African-American history led to me reflecting on what all civil rights activists have accomplished.

It made me wonder if our generation is doing enough to show our appreciation for their fight for civil rights.

While I do believe people in this day and age realize how essential civil rights activist were to our current social status, I think there is always more we can do to show how thankful we are for them.

One of the best ways to showcase our gratitude is by going beyond the standard history lessons we were given in elementary, middle and high school to learn more about African American history.

It is common knowledge that those history books do not cover every aspect of African-American history. We must take the initiative and interest in educating ourselves about what social leaders have done in their fight to ensure future generations are given their rights.

I am one of many guilty of not taking enough time to research Black history.

For instance, I didn’t know much about Reese prior to my interviews with him for the newspaper article on his Street Naming Celebration and Ceremony and the upcoming magazine article in the next edition of Selma The Magazine.

During our conversation, I learned Reese played a key part in the voting rights movement in Selma. He was the president of both the Dallas County Voter’s League and the Selma Teachers Association, signed the invitation welcoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Leadership Conference in 1965 and coordinated several marches and demonstrations.

Another way this generation can acknowledge the hard work of our ancestors is to reflect on what civil right activists has accomplished.

He told me about the physical and mental pain he endured and gave credit to God for helping him bear the burden of the struggle.

We can sometimes forget our hard work is not the only thing that has earned us the successful positions we are in today. We had people risk their lives, and at times, give their lives for us.

If it were not for people like Reese, our accomplishments would come second to our race, because America would still widely accept the idea that worth is determined by race.

Black history month should not be the only time we recognize the civil right leaders and activists who have done so much to ensure we get what we deserve.

I am not naïve to believe that all is right with the world, and no one faces discriminates anymore. I am just appreciative of the people who have gotten us this far.

From this point on, it is the current generation’s responsibility to make sure those sacrifices were not done in vain.

It is crucial for us to take advantage of our opportunities and continue social progression.

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