Today, many older Americans of my generation still seem to have a passion and motivation to help make our community a better place to live. We grew up in the Jim Crow world of segregation and widespread racial discrimination, being an eyewitness to the change brought about by the Civil Rights Movement, especially with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
These landmark laws changed America forever, moving us ever closer to becoming a more perfect union. Granted, we have come a long way, culminating with the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, in 2008 and his reelection in 2012. But this is not the time for us to rest on our laurels, for there is still a lot of work to be done as the current presidential administration remains determined to undo all that President Obama worked to accomplish.
Equally as apprehensive is the thought of passing the torch to the next generation who seems to be indifferent and aloof about the current state of affairs in our community, especially when it comes to the well-being and the future of our children and young people. I’m not really sure what it will take for us to “stay woke and fight.” We appear to be easily distracted with our attention span growing shorter and shorter. To be sure, we need to be about the business of helping our children get in a position for a more secure and productive future. We would be wise to heed the advice of the great sage who once said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” For our children’s sake, we cannot lose hope.
As you soon take your rightful place as the new torchbearers for your community, you must learn to work together, to teach your children the value of hard work and protect and give your children a sense of their history, their self-worth and dignity, helping your children reach school ready to learn, so your children will thrive academically. Just remember, every child deserves to grow up in an environment that is loving and nurturing. More than anything, let’s not add to the odds already stacked against too many of our children. So, everything you do should enhance their chances of finishing high school and going on to college, becoming career-ready and earning a decent wage.
At the end of the day, the research suggests that children and young people want guidance and support—someone to show them the way and to help set the path for achieving success. In your new role as torchbearers, parents should always strive to do things that will translate into success for their children, helping young people acquire a commitment to learning. And for our children’s sake, we can never lose hope.
Larry Sutton is a retired school teacher from Clinton High School.