Friday, April 2, 2010
Minority Wins the Majority
My parents always warned me never to discuss religion or politics as those were the two issues that divided the world the most. I don’t know if their telling me this makes me reluctant to write this but my head and heart is so full of things I need to express. I am in total awe - awe at the fact that I am living a historical moment in America’s history. There were always the moments in time that I watched television coverage of like the Twin Towers being destroyed and thousands of lives changed forever, but when you witness a change from the history that you’ve learned and read about in school, that is awesome! It’s like a pop-up book you’re reading the story and boom an image jumps out at you that changes your interpretations of what you’ve just read.
In history class thirty years ago, I read about slavery that lasted from 1607 until 1865. Over two-hundred years of people being treated like animals because of their skin color. The beatings they received when their white master was not satisfied with their work. How they were sold from one person to another as if they were a possession. How in 1860 fifteen states of the United States of America found the behavior to be legal, just and in accordance with the Constitution written by the founding fathers until Abraham Lincoln pushed the thirteenth amendment through congress.
Although there was an amendment that ended slavery after the Civil War, fifteen states prohibited blacks from voting. Right were given to blacks by the United states with the fourteenth amendment but states tested those rights by demanding blacks take a writing test before voting. Of course they could not pass because they did not have the education whites did. They were segregated from government services. In order to keep black people from mainstreaming into the white America segregated schools and transportation were setup especially for them.
I remember reading about the blacks on the bus who were not allowed to sit in the front of the bus because they had dark skin. About Irene Morgan, the twenty-seven year old black woman who in 1944 had the courage to defy the interstate bus driver who ordered her to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. The driver drove her to the sheriff where she resisted arrest by tearing up the arrest warrant and kicking him in the groin. She was forced off the bus and jailed. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks the black woman also arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus for a white passenger joined Martin Luther King in the Montgomery Bus Boycott a year-long protest against Montgomery, Alabama’s policy of racial segregation on its public transportation system. This boycott led to the United States Supreme Court declaring the Montgomery segregated bus laws unconstitutional.
From the Montgomery boycott a civil rights leader was born. Martin Luther King, the pastor arrested, whose house was bombed and who was subjected to personal abuse. After winning the boycott, he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership conference in 1957. He raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement when he delivered his I Have A Dream speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He had the simple dream of having everyone regardless of color or creed, live together in a united world not a divided one.
The history books told of the assassinations of all who fought for the civil rights of Americans - Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. Three days ago the newspapers told of the passing of Madelyn Dunham, the woman who had a direct impact on one black man’s life. I couldn’t help but wonder if her passing was a sign that she and all the spirits before her had arrived and they were now standing tall and proud next to the first black man who won the 44th presidency of the United States. They help Barack Obama live the American dream.
On November 4, 2008 my pop-up book image came from my television at the early hours of the morning here in the Netherlands. There was Barack Obama my new president, standing at the podium in Chicago, Illinois thanking the American people. This image changed my heart and way of thinking.
During the past eight years I had lost my faith in the American voting system. I was terrorized the morning four airplanes flew into the New York monuments of the state where I was born and raised. I was then terrified each Christmas season after at the thought of having to fly home to my parents. I was so angered and frustrated by a senseless war that my motto had become “I am an American proud to be living in the Netherlands”. The love for a Dutch man I met through the internet caused me to settle here but America will always be my first home.
The chanting of yes we can reminded me of all the people who told this disabled white woman with Cerebral Palsy you won’t or you can’t and then I look at my healthy eight year old son and think - The “Minority” Wins the Majority! A true happy ending for us all! Or is it just the beginning - all I know is you have to believe in order to achieve!
A year and a half later thousands of miles from the United States, my son wrote "yes we can" on a paper he wrote about whether or not his school could raise money to build a library in Guatamala. It just goes to show how much impact three words from one man can have on the world!