“Walls turned sideways are bridges.” Angela Davis
Davis is an activist, philosopher, academic, scholar, and author; and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She’s the author of over ten books on class, feminism, race, and the US prison system.
The great Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. was all about building bridges. His lif,e and his work, inspired so many to try to reach across that racial divide and find common ground.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I became aware of the struggle of Black people and the horrific truths of racism that sparked so many atrocities. I didn’t have a television for most of my childhood that was spent in a very white area in the north, so the news of segregation and attempts at integration were unknown to me. Slavery was just mentioned in one chapter of my history book in High School, quickly brushed over by the teacher as something in our past to be put behind us and forgotten.
My sociology professor was the one who enlightened me about the Black experience. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and invited students to meet at a coffee shop after class to talk about what we – in Michigan – could do to help. None of us were in a position to travel south to march, but there were plenty of opportunities to make a difference in Detroit.
We protested in neighborhoods where black families were not able to buy a home.
We wrote letters to city and state government officials to support anti-discrimination laws.
And sometimes we got brave enough to tell our peers when we found a word or a joke offensive.
That was the hardest part for me, as I think it is for many of us. We don’t want to risk losing a friend. We don’t want to take the chance of making someone angry enough to perhaps slug us. And we don’t want to create a stunned silence in the middle of a party.
But I’m working on that and getting better at speaking up.
Like so many other activists, I was, and still am, inspired by the life and messages of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I admired him so much for his non-violent approach to fighting for justice, and I want to honor him again today on his special day.
If he were alive I would send him a note, thanking him for awakening a new heart in this white woman.
Now, before ending this blog, here are a few of MLK’s most popular quotes. May they be more than mere words to us.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
(More on AL.com)
Did you already know why the banks are closed today and there is no mail delivery? Have you been involved in civil rights? Did you grow up in a bigoted family? How have you changed in your views about racism since childhood?