By Veronica Mackey
Long before the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Black Lives Matter or—more recently—the Million Women’s March, Black Americans were leading the charge against an oppressive government regime. Many were jailed and beaten—some even died in the fight to gain such basic rights as equal access to drinking fountains and public bathroom facilities.
The tumultuous 60s were defined to a great degree by African Americans who courageously stood up to government-sanctioned racism and discrimination. Black civil rights leaders honed the art of civil disobedience that laid the foundation for various other groups to follow. The 1963 March on Washington, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proved that power, when organized effectively, really does belong in the hands of the people.
In this new Trumpian society, there will be plenty of opportunity for protests. But will the protests be organized and effective enough to stop his policies? Change will only come when there is solidarity and commitment, as in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which almost bankrupted local public transportation.
Marches and protests do draw attention, but they are not the only tools in the toolbox. Another strategy is to bring about change from the inside out. Film maker Michael Moore challenged anti-Trump protestors at the Million Women’s March to make a difference by going into politics.
Last week, parents of slain teenager Trayvon Martin announced they are considering running for public office. TheGrio.com reports that Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin and mother Sybrina Fulton are “fearful that President Donald Trump will erase any progress and even set the country back.”
“Before I was just comfortable with my average life, but now I feel like I’m just obligated to be part of the change,” Fulton said. “The only way we can be part of the change is if we start with local government and we work our way up.”
Martin is concerned that the new president is putting people into positions to further divide the country—a country that has grown more racially divided since the high profile killing of their unarmed black son by a white neighborhood watchman, later acquitted by a six-woman jury.
He added: “There’s no limitations. I think once you embark on a journey, you don’t minimize your goal; you want to maximize your goals.”
Black history embodies the history of fighting for equality, whether the battle takes place on the street or within legislative offices. Regardless of the venue, those who advocate for the rights of women, gays, undocumented immigrants, nonwhite citizens, the sick, poor and needy have Black civil rights pioneers to thank for elevating the struggle to a level that went beyond making noise to actually getting results.