I love history. This country is filled with incredible stories of human beings who did incredible things during trying times. They were ordinary people who stood up for what was right. Many did not get to see the fruit of their labor, but they tended the garden anyway.
It is what we need: People who will tend to the garden even though they don’t get to eat the harvest.
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass fought to change minds about the evils of slavery from the midst of it. They lived to see the end of slavery, but the true liberation of their people escaped them. Tubman helped free slaves one person at a time with the Underground Railroad. Douglass wrote books and gave speeches on the evils of slavery after having escaped from his master.
Because of the work done by Tubman and Douglass, Ida Wells and James Baldwin were able to get an education. Baldwin grew up in Harlem where he was able to attend public school and began a literary career. Wells, one of the founders of the NAACP, was a graduate of Fisk University. She was also a journalist and suffragist. Both continued to be a voice of the movement.
A Georgia minister became the spokesperson for that movement in the 1950s. Dr. Martin Luther King lead boycotts and organized nonviolent protests in the southern part of the United States. Even though he won a Novel Peace Prize, he did not see the fruit of his labor. But he tended the garden cause he knew fruit was coming.
Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States. In the face of radical racism, he lead the country in a way that was true to the people who came before him. Like the slaves who came before him, he was attacked in every manner, but like cream, rose to the top. His wife, Michelle, set a new standard for what a First Lady is able to accomplish during their time in office.
Black History lives and breathes.
Welcome the stories of women.
Alice Paul was one of the women who lead the campaign for the 19th Amendment.
Delores Huerta is a Latina who co founded the National Farmerworkers Association and a civil rights activist.
Sojourner Truth was an abolitionists and former slave who also contributed to the women’s movement.
Ida B Wells was a journalist and activist who was not afraid to take on racist white women who hindered the women’t movement.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an abolitionist and suffragist who helped co found the women’s right movement.
Susan B Anthony was an abolitionist and suffragist who helped arrange for the U.S. Congress to be presented with the amendment giving women the right to vote.
Again, these women tended the garden, but didn’t eat the fruit.
as I watched the movie I Am Not Your Negro. This is something we know, just need to be reminded of it. Probably often.
Things change when one person stands up and says something isn’t right. As I watched James Baldwin recount the history of African Americans in the United States, I was reminded that the few do the work of the many until change comes.
I saw the lonely few frightened faces of children as they integrated schools against crowds 10 times their size. I watched folks beaten and battered against more cops than they could keep up with.
So as we face the great odds against us, remind ourselves that we are in good company. My words to you, keep fighting even if you are the only one in your circle fighting because that it how it is supposed to be. Continue to fight peacefully for what is right and true. It will be a lonely fight, but worth it.
Let them see the fire in your eyes that “we hold those truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”
All men and women on this planet have been created in the image of our Creator with power to give Him glory. He doesn’t treat us as slaves, but as His own children. ISIS can’t take it away. White supremacy can’t take it away.
Some days you will be the only one taking the stand, saying “That is not right!” I am going to do it whether you join me or not. As the movie reminded me, the fight has been a lonely one for a long time.