It’s a new year, and a new day for that matter. And with that comes new opportunity. Chances to right the wrongs, in efforts to collectively see a better and brighter day for years to come. 

So… I’ll spare you laments of our President-Elect and focus on a more pressing, deeply-seeded question. Have we overcome yet? 

Depending on who you ask and their walk of life, you may get a resounding absolutely…But truthfully, how far have we come and are we on the cusp of considering each other as equal citizens across the board? 

I think we’ve come a mighty long way, but there’s so much to be done; we’ve become stagnant due to confusion. We’re at a loss for answers. 

History has taught us to be vocal and gather as one to fight the power that’s held us down. But with any type of reform, cause and effect sets in. Glances were deadly, hoses were shot and beatings were routine for being…yes, just being. We plotted for more, became a unit and swore we’d conquer together until the end. Hands gripped signs, while chanting words to penetrate the ears and minds of any cynic; hoping to sway a thought of change. Black men and women were hunted for sport; preyed on while others stood idle, never-minding their ways as inhumane and sinister. Crosses burned, as ivory bed-clothed cowards terrorized innocent people daily. Bodies were set ablaze and hung from youngest to the oldest; it was common-practice to witness vultures partake a feeding frenzy of black remains-this was America. As I know it, as you know it as well; there’s no hyperbole. 

Peaceful rallies of non-violence spiraled into self-defense battle-cries. How do you fight a heavy-handed systematic oppressor?Then, ever so close to a buyout, an understanding… a due seat at the table-the works of hatred and radical racism reigned down to sever any notion of changes appearance. The dream of overcoming might have died April 4, 1968, alongside its owner. 

Fast forward to 2016, race relations are still at a fever-pitch. Tensions are bursting, the stakes are higher than ever; for the simple fact-we’ve seen these days before. Random acts weren’t as random as one would think. 2016 displayed the majority of the aggression one sided. Days past to now mirror racism as the fabric of our lives; the continued heartbeat of our nation. In turn, justice is at times slow, and in other cases not rendered. And instead of being judged by 12, we’re carried by 6. As Americans, living and breathing in the land of the free, you’d think we’d know better, right? We should know how to treat one-another by now, right?

You’d think. 

Thing is, do we care enough as united Americans to share our experiences and common knowledge; to ensure we comfort all that’s great about being, an American. America has come from a very dark era, to then try and tuck in that era; to now blatantly act like one shouldn’t remember or acknowledge that era’s existence. Furthermore, act as though racists of the Klan and extremists days haven’t done everything in their power to embed those ideologies to their offspring.

I’m sure they didn’t. 

When I was young, I leaned towards the teachings of Malcolm over Martin; simply because I felt he knew what it was like not to compromise and stand your ground; not in ignorance, rather, enrich oneself to take pride in oneself. The drawback when doing so, you’ll face opposition. But, I’ve been taught, things worth having are worth dying for-freedom being no consolation. Years past, and now full-grown I understand why Martin suggested another way to keep bloodshed at a minimum. More death equals more coffins, and in turn more separation. No one wins for the greater good. Martin’s foresight saw beyond harm’s aura; looming in the shadows of death, thick as the day is long. He knew his slaughter was imminent, yet there was unfinished work. He spoke with conviction, and led as though he knew his message would live forever. A message of togetherness and hope for stellar tomorrows, in exchange for a dogfight today can be applied to any adversity. 

I try my best to stay humble and do the work; knowing my forefathers saw things I now can only read or hear about. And being mindful of those revelations, Martin’s stern voice of peace and prosperity echoes, reverberating in my conscience.His sultry tenor compels me to encourage all my young brothers and sisters to…press on! Wake up every day…knowing, your best has to be 2-3 times better than normal-just because, I ask you to press on! When your best is in fact better than those before or equal to you, yet you’re passed over-stay steadfast and press on! When you feel you’ve giving all you can and you want to throw in the towel; think about how giving up on your journey wasn’t an option back then. Those strong men and women looked left and right, stood hand-in-hand, fingers locked and knew, they had no choice but to press on-for us. 

They did it for us. 

These days and beyond, you will face times so trying, you won’t know whether you’re coming-or-going; that said, MLK would ask that you press on! Although you may not see the glory in front of you as you’d like, you should know, your struggle and determination speaks from the mountain tops, down to the lowest valley paved with rubble. We need to condition ourselves to move above the fray, strive for more, and never settle. Have we overcome…I think not. I will say we’re over-overcoming to now becoming people empowered by the path laid. History has repeated itself, or stayed the course of yesteryear’s behavior.

We as a people must do better, it’s our job and we owe it to pioneers like MLK.  We have to be the authors of our own stories and write them with strength and purpose; and when done-we as a people can and will say we overcame-finally. 

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