March 7th, 2015 commemorated 50 years since the Selma to Montgomery March terminating on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It was a time of racial unrest and a hopeful rally for equality and change. Whether time has been a friend or a foe of that event depends on the person you ask. Perhaps change has been slow and not as observable for some as one would, but some would argue that change has occurred. How ironic, that the present state of current events of social unrest marked by several bouts of killings of young black men by police makes one wonder just how little progress has been made in providing equality and social justice to all, especially as it relates to the criminal justice system.
At times, one would think that we are going backwards or even questioning if things have changed at all. African Americans are up at arms at some law enforcing agents that are supposed to be protecting us but aiding to our demise. And perhaps the saddest part is that these officers claim they are adhering to policies and practices approved and supported by their perspective police departments. One can only wonder if the problem is systemic thus warranting a much-needed overhaul of a bias inadequate criminal justice system.
One of the startling findings from the recent March to Selma was the ingrained poverty and lack of progress overshadowing so much of the town. Some liken many parts of the town to a place that had been trapped in a time bubble, depriving it of the changes taking place in towns all around. There are those who say that the lack of progress overall in Selma reflects former oppressors punishing the town for their stand to rebuke the status quo at the time. Selma’s poverty stands as a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Maybe we, as African Americans, should rally to improve the economic plight of Selma and make it an economic and productive success as a vestige of hope and promise.
Things have changed for the better if you ask some African Americans living during those turbulent times, if only because of the availability of more opportunities and access to public venues once tainted by overt racism. Now the racism may still be harbored by many die heart bigots spreading that poison to their offspring—but it isn’t blatantly and overtly manifested or accepted publically. Those Americans legitimately seeking justice must acknowledge and rally to fight hidden racism that is the status quo accepted systemically by those in boardrooms wearing suits and making bias laws and policies.
President Barack Obama made a profound speech on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, honoring those brave Americans marching 50 years ago advocating for social change. He echoed the inspirational significance of what the march from Selma to Montgomery meant and our responsibility as citizens are to make a difference. Therefore, one can conclude that the most transcending message during commemorating and revisiting Selma is that everyone should pledge to work even more diligently toward making this country the country it should be, free from racial bias with equality and opportunities for advancement and prosperity for all. The most important tool we as African Americans have is our voting power. Make sure you are registered and exercise this gift for real change.