"I have said this before, and I will say it again," Lewis said
in June 2019, a year before his death at 80 years old on July 17, 2020. "The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy."
In honor of the late John Lewis, a civil rights leader, he is quoted as saying: "To those who have said, 'Be patient and wait,' we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again."
Director Dawn Porter's newest documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble, is a tribute to the civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis. The documentary points out that America is still in a civil rights struggle and is still fighting for rights for African Americans.
However, both history and modern crime statistics show that the threat to Black lives everywhere is nothing new. To this day, Black children and adults alike entering into white neighborhoods can still result in senseless, life-ending situations regardless of their innocence.
Frederick Douglass was an American who was born into slavery in February of 1818, and was an author as well as an abolitionist. Douglass played an active role in leading the nonviolent protests that would occur in the 1800s and even wrote a book called A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in 1845. Echoing forward into the 1960s, well after slavery was abolished in America and much of Frederick Douglass' dreams of the freedom of Black folks were accomplished, enter people such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
King, who also wrote a book, was born in January of 1929 when segregation laws in America were still in place and died at the age of 39 years old. King wrote his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, which helped create the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legislation in America — protests reigned all over America and the world for the freedom of African Americans.
"To those who have said, 'Be patient and wait,' we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again." — John Lewis
The world is no longer an ignorant enough place to accept bias and discrimination about race and culture or any other forms of xenophobic rationalizations. Conscious and progressive, the average person is more than aware of their forward-thinking place in society and their role in moving into the future with an understanding and sense of true community. The global landscape of business and interaction has molded pop-culture in support of people of all races, ethnicities, and national origins.
However, with the recent outcry surrounding the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor we began to recognize flaws in our progress. Our steps forward began to show signs of recurrent historical injustices concerning equal protection under the law and due process. The murders gave us a quick reality check needed to examine how we view the application of laws in our current society. Reminding us of times of constant fights for justice and equal rights.
The importance of sensitivity around inequities in our justice system and how people of color have been underserved by a huge margin, has led us to revisit protest as a means of being heard. Though we addressed these issues in the past, their historical ramifications are still very apparent. It seems, the more we bury issues of race and disparity, the more they rear their head in present-day issues as unresolved causing upheaval and disgust. The struggle toward progress persists, leaving people of color in the minority and in need adequate representation and equal protection.
So, have you been asked this question: what do you think of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Everyone seems to be asking this question, too many people, even those who are not Black. Many people have different opinions. Some people think the issue is about a lot of belly-aching and undue protests. But, it is true, the majority of crimes that are committed in the United States are still done by white people — 60% of all crimes in the United States are committed by white people. Men, in general, make up 81% of all violent crimes and up to 63% of property crimes.
All African Americans in the U.S. make up about 13% of the population, however, African Americans, especially men, make up about 39% of the arrests for violent crime in America.
Although the statistics for the amount of crime committed by white people, particularly men, in America are true according to research done by the University of Minnesota, there is a disproportionate number of Black men represented in overall crime rates.
Additionally, unlike their white counterparts, African Americans have the legacy of slavery in America. Slavery began in 1501 where the first African slaves were sold off the coasts of West Africa from such countries as Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Africans were forced into positions of free labor through a system known as the "slave triangle" by Francis Drake and his colleagues according to historical records about slavery in America.
Though all lives matter, Black lives require more advocacy due to the long-standing systemic racism that is heavily ingrained in our justice system and society. So, how do we move forward without more revisits to the past?
With Generation Z, we hope to approach the issues of race, injustice, and equality from an educational standpoint reflective of moving forward without having to relive them on the day-to-day. Instead of having the past as a means of education and reflection, it seems we are being forced to revisit the struggles of our ancestors with modern-day trials reminiscent of the past. It's unfortunate we face these problems once again as a society and have to take a head-on approach to change. How many times must we be handed the same problem and be forced to push toward a solution? Same problem, same solution.
Hopefully, this time we will learn.