Monday, January 19, 2009

Reflections on a Moment in History

I was thinking today, as we celebrate the life of a great proponent of human rights and as we prepare to see the first non-white person ever inaugurated into the highest office in the country (something I honestly never thought I'd see), about the Civil Rights Movement.

As someone who was born in the 70's and who grew up in the north, I don't think I have nearly as much appreciation of everything that happened in the South in the 50's and 60's. I mean, I have never witnessed institutional racial discrimination (to the best of my knowledge). I have seen bigotry, but it is usually covert, as opposed to out in the open. To me, it seems like a distant part of history.

But then I read articles like this. Almost half of the school systems in Louisiana still have desegregation suits pending. That's insane. And I learned today that the bus boycott in Montgomery, the one we all learned about in school, was actually patterned after a successful bus boycott in Baton Rouge, which we never learned about up north. And I watched this documentary, which was fascinating.

I'm realizing now how little I know about the struggle for civil rights for African Americans and other racial minorities. And through my friendships with certain other minorities who still don't have equal rights in most states, I realize how far we still have to come.

I think my next reading jag is going to be about the Civil Rights Era. So much I don't know...

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