On July 31, The Augusta Chronicle published a letter by Mr. Joaquin Godoy expressing his belief that Black Americans “are and will remain second-class citizens.” It was unsettling because it was partly true: sad and cynical, but in a historical context, true. However, it isn’t all true, especially the “are and will remain” part.
One thing is certain: rhetoric like this, although it gets our attention, doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t make our community stronger. It doesn’t make our country stronger. I like our story better when we come together to solve problems.
I spent time recently driving Alabama’s I-65 and I-85, passing Montgomery, Selma, the Tuskegee Heritage Museum, and a Confederate Museum, and the convergence of historic anniversaries and geographical significance gave me pause. The national effort to ensure all men are treated equally started 150 years ago, and yet today, it remains an understandably heavy and awkward conversation. But we must have the conversation, with respect and even-tempered analysis. You can’t have “buy in” until everyone has “weighed in.”
We have a rich, scarred, and sacred history. It is evident from our past that implementing any change of lasting value takes time, effort, and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes real change must come from within. However, there is no denying that we achieve more when we work together, uniting our backgrounds and viewpoints to attack a common mission.
We owe a great deal to those who went before us, but we’re not there yet. Today’s “Freedom Ride” is on a figurative bus requiring unparalleled problem-solving skills and open-minded collaboration.
This bus has places to go and big things to accomplish from the local level to the global level. It won’t get there overnight, but it won’t get there at all unless we all get on it together.