I was born in Alabama and at age 82, I now remember how it was in those days of my youth. There were certain things to be aware of regarding elected leaders and law officials. As a Black boy raised by a single mother in Loxley, a small rural town in Baldwin County Alabama, I received direct instruction on proper conduct and survival skills from my mother.
Following her instructions is perhaps partly the reason I survived. I now recognize the development of my hostile attitude, based on what I witnessed by what my mother experience as a Black woman.
This is the foundation of my involvement in the civil rights struggle and what fuels my passion today. Even at the time of my youth (when Jim Crow legislation directed separate conduct and consideration because of race), there were citizens of the majority community who were more humane considering citizens of color by disregarding that law. But today, in spite of legislation providing equal rights according to law, there appears to be a subconscious consideration by some to separate citizens into two nations (one White/one Black) causing some people and organizations to separate. And equal consideration under the law is practiced according to their own agenda. This conduct receives institutionalized support. As an example, the New York Police Union supported the jury report in the Eric Garner case.
The recent events across the nation have again caused the nation to provide extended attention and examination of conduct by local judicial systems. Massive demonstrations have stirred the political attention to various stockholders across party lines. While there are some citizens who wholly support the report of the juries, I suggest the demonstrations were not racially based but more focused on police misconduct and police accountability. Notice the rainbow mixture of the demonstrators that represented concern citizens from across the nation. The national demonstrations attest that this is also the experience in other states. The president of the New York Police Union encouraged the action of his members. The biased report of the juries caused Lady Justice to hold her head in shame, and the scale of justice has been tilted off balance.
Clarksville, Tennessee is not beyond what is happening across this nation. Here’s part of our community’s history: In 1987, a Clarksville police officer shot a Black soldier in the back. TBI supported the shooting. The soldier was attempting to jump from the second floor of a motel. He was shot in the back, killed while city, county and military police were on the ground to capture him. We, concerned citizens, protested and demonstrated in the city and in front of Ft. Campbell gate 4, and some of us went to jail. We went to jail because the city council refused to hear our complaint, so we took over the mayor’s office and refused to leave. That is still in my records as an unrecognizable act on the part of our city.
The present push is to change laws and procedures but nothing will really ever change until there is a change of hearts and minds of people. It is my prayer that political and Christian leaders will work together to repair past broken promises.