EDITORIAL: How do you get ready for Big March on Winston-Salem?

EDITORIAL: How do you get ready for Big March on Winston-Salem?
June 11
00:00 2015

The movie “Selma” educated many and revived memories for others about the tough times of the Civil Rights Movement. Other movies have touched on parts of the movement. The documentary “Eyes on the Prize” showed real scenes of black people who protested getting bit by police dogs and various other kinds of police action. But how did all those people know how to protest? How did they learn how to march for freedom?

Those questions are relevant today as what has been called the greatest litigation on voting rights since Selma prepares to come to Winston-Salem. On July 13, hundreds of people are expected to descend on the city as the federal lawsuit N.C. NAACP v. McCrory is heard. This is the lawsuit filed to overturn the North Carolina voter law that requires a government-issued identification card to vote and ends various voter laws.

“July the 13th, we begin the most important voting rights litigation since Selma. We’re saying this is our Selma,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP, said on May 30. “On that day, we go to trial, but that evening we will have a national voting rights march and rally in support of voting rights. And we’re saying that because we want everybody here to mobilize hundreds of people to come back on that day.”

The N.C. NAACP is in the process of gaining commitments from people who will work toward a show of force on July 13.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also is planning a march, this one for later in the summer. This year’s “Journey for Justice” will go 850 miles, from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C. — through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia — “to highlight the need for criminal justice and voting reforms because our lives matter and our children deserve to live,” says Cornell William Brooks, president/CEO of the Baltimore-based NAACP.

How does an organization mobilize for a march in the 21st century, a time in which we use new tools to communicate with each other? How do you reach youth who appear to have crooked necks because of all the texting they do? How do you reach the grandmothers with their iPads full of photos of grandchildren, not manifestos? How do you reach the grandfathers who would rather go fishing than stage a protest? Isn’t all this protest talk passé’? After all, it was 50 years ago when all the hard work was done, right?

Wrong. Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Movement was a force because people were sick and tired of being sick and tired of the injustice heaped upon them. Black people had pride and felt they had to prove that they were just as good as white people. Back then, the Civil Rights Movement moved through a segregated society in which there were no mobile phones with text messaging or computers with email. The desire to live as human beings and be treated as such was so great that people sacrificed to gain the inalienable rights that they were supposed to have. Where is the sacrifice today? Where is the concern as those rights are being taken away? Black and white Americans died for voting rights, but many black people still don’t vote. It’s easy to complain when people who don’t have black people’s interest at heart are elected. It’s hard to get them removed if you don’t vote them out.

As the July 13 date approaches, black Americans in Winston-Salem should remember their history, vow never to return to those times and act with finances and other means to make sure that happens.

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