As a nation, we should continually move toward a more enlightened position when it comes to dealing with matters of our racial past and present.
Being an eyewitness to our recent history and a student of history for some considerable time, it is my informed opinion that we have been moving in the right direction in our nation’s efforts to fulfill America’s promise of liberty and justice for all. At the same time, we must remain vigilant in our march toward complete freedom, vowing to never ever give up the struggle to overcome generations of inequality, while resolving to work harder at building a more just society.
Indeed, we should continue to invest our energy and time in America’s perennial struggle toward “a more perfect union” with faith in the future that “we shall overcome some day.” Now, our challenge is to make that “some day,” sooner, rather than later, for we are at a critical turning point in our history, with so much at stake. And, we should pledge to make that “some day” much sooner, rather than later for the sake of our children.
To my generation, this is our moment of truth in facing our history and in lifting the burdens of our racial past and present off the shoulders of the younger generation and their posterity. Again, for the sake of our children, it’s time to pursue a path leading to reconciliation and healing. Our young people shouldn’t be saddled with these burdens for the next generations to come.
Interestingly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words spoken almost 50 years ago are still relevant today as we seek to find ways to relieve our young people of the burdens of our past mistakes. In 1968, Dr. King spoke these words: “Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”
Without a doubt, many negative racial attitudes are so deeply embedded that they still pervade lives, institutions, organizations and communities. Just where and how do we start to redefine our American society, making it free of the barriers of the color line and our racial past, a racial past that has been so insidious as to seem like a part of our national DNA, infecting our minds and bodies.
To be sure, we have a lot of work to do as we go about the important unfinished business of freeing our young people from the burdens of our racial past as a nation and to restore a faith in the future for all Americans. Our youth need for us to come together and do the right thing. We need to work together to find common ground and workable solutions, making our youth our first priority.
So, we start to redefine our American society with facing the challenge of change, helping to steer our young people in the right direction, along the path of reconciliation.
Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.