In 2018, we should not have to remind this country that Black LIVES Matter. We will have to continue to remind America of that until we have broken the shackles of prejudice, half-truths and just downright ignorance. We must remind America that Black Lives Matter until we no longer have the leadership of a major political party suppressing the right to vote. America must be reminded that a heavy price was paid for the freedom to cast a ballot in this free country.
Please be reminded that too many people of all races and genders died for the right to cast the ballot. We will have to continue to remind America that Blacks’ lives matter as long as there is a war on people of color and the free press is considered an enemy of the people. We must continue to celebrate Black History Month and Black Lives Matter as long as hate and fear are in vogue. We must celebrate until the red, black, white and yellow realize that we are on this planet together, and as far as I know, the space travelers or the scientists have not given the all clear to any group to board the ship to another planet. This is it!
So people, when we say Black Lives Matter, please do not pivot by saying “All Lives Matter.” Until this country realizes that Black Lives Matter, no life will matter. We are not yet there. Dr. Martin Luther King stated that we are all mingled together in this tangled web of humanity, and we all MUST matter.
We, as a black people, know more about whites than you will ever in a life time know about blacks. Blacks have been studying whites all of our lives, not because we wanted to, but because that was necessary in order to survive. When many whites thought that they were manipulating blacks and taking advantage of them, they were being studied. Now in order for us all to survive, those in power should take time to study blacks and poor whites. The president thinks that Frederick Douglass is still alive, and he attended the best school in the country. America must understand who blacks are and accept their humanity. That involves realizing that they bleed red blood, cry when hurt, fight when mad, and laugh when happy.
Let us join together and realize that there will not be another “Gone with the Wind” era. Let America never forget what happened in the “Birth of a Nation” era. Let us close out this Black History Month of celebration with the determination to finalize the reality of the DREAM spoken of by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The dream is one of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed: a dream of a land where men will not take the necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. A dream of a land where men do not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character, a dream of a place where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity, the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of all human personality, and men will dare to live together as brothers. Whenever the complete dream is fulfilled, we will emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glowing daybreak of freedom and justice for all of God’s children.
The poet, James Russell Lowell, makes our position clear in these lines taken from his poem.
“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.”
Willie Mae Samuel is the founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome.