It’s not straightforward to take a seat again and mirror in your life, however that’s what I did final week as I celebrated my 63rd birthday. It was a time to look at 50 years of activism, classes discovered each personally and for civil rights work extra usually.
Raised by a single mom, I started as a boy preacher in Brooklyn beneath the tutelage of the Revs. William Jones and Jesse Jackson. At thirteen, I turned youth director of the New York department of Operation Breadbasket (based by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and headed nationally by Jackson), and have been within the motion since.
There have been moments of utmost problem, sacrifice and problem — lots of which have been splashed on pages akin to these — however the reward of serving to the unvoiced and shifting society ahead are immeasurable. So after 5 many years, I’d wish to share a few of the issues that I’ve discovered with future freedom fighters.
First, and important to recollect in occasions like these, when some name for resisting the powers that be with the fist or the gun: Nonviolence is the important thing.
And that’s not simply because King stated so — it’s as a result of strategically, solely nonviolence helps advance your objective, and helps make sure that your message and your objective are by no means overshadowed.
Even once we have been referred to as disparaging phrases, even once we had items of watermelon and different objects thrown at us, even when police arrested us, and even after I used to be stabbed, I and different civil rights advocates have pushed for peace.
Actually, after I used to be stabbed throughout an indication, I went to courtroom, forgave the person who stabbed me, requested the decide for leniency (the person nonetheless did 9 years), and later even visited the person in jail. Those that contemplate themselves messengers of a righteous trigger can by no means stoop to the extent of these trying to cease them.
The spirit of nonviolence ought to prolong to the language we use. I admit: On this level, I’ll have faltered at occasions. Opponents will all the time attempt to tear you down; Colin Kaepernick, who has tried to make use of his platform to focus consideration on police killings of unarmed black males, is aware of this nicely. All of the extra cause to make sure that our phrases, whereas impassioned and forceful, by no means advocate for using pressure.
It’s also important for all these working for equality to withstand turning petty. That may be troublesome when foes are intent to vilify, mock and misrepresent…