Movements & Moments
Dr. Walter Greason
30 June 2015
The soul of the United States stirred last Friday. Indeed, a shudder rocked much of humanity when President Barack Obama intoned the first lines of the transformative gospel lyric – “Amazing Grace.” It was the culmination of a horrifying week as the world confronted a terrorist attack where the Charleston 9, Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59, were killed. It was the moment of reconciliation that the movement that elected the President had envisioned leading up to his first election. The sense of joy and peace that the nation has sought since the 1964 Civil Rights Act gained its first realization during that speech. All that remained was a catalyst to take action on this unique feeling.
Bree Newsome provided it early the next morning by scaling a flagpole and removing the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds. It was a temporary victory, and she was immediately arrested. Still, the symbol of direct, individual action to remove a symbol of division and strife has inspired millions of people everywhere. It has also enraged a volatile few. They have started to organize in defense of the ideology that inspired the confessed killer at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
In every community, but especially fast-growing areas like Montgomery County, there are small choices everyone can make to move forward in the present moment of grace and healing. Public displays of the Confederate flag can no longer be countenanced. Detailed, educational curricula and sustained study of the poisonous ideology of white supremacy should become common knowledge in every school. Every government agency and major local business should file public, annual reports about their fair hiring, promotion, and/or lending practices. Universal voter registration must become the hallmark of every free society. Most importantly, local truth and reconciliation commissions must undertake the task of uncovering the histories of slavery and segregation, so that everyone will recognize its remaining elements and be able to uproot them.
In the long term, there must be benchmarks and goals to guide a society’s march along the long arc of moral justice. First among these is the accomplishment of integrated housing and commercial markets. The persistence of racial disparities in these two sectors will allow segregation to endure eternally. Civil rights organizations must begin an annual review of every local, county, and state office as a non-partisan actor to keep the public informed about effective solutions and intransigent problems. Finally, leading educators must work beyond their schools and universities to create a global education and employment pipeline. By coordinating students to find and create millions of new opportunities in every part of the world, the grace so many seek will be made manifest.
For most of the last six years, pundits have made extensive commentary about how the world has seen the limits of the Presidency during Barack Obama’s time in office. Over the last week, his constituency has embraced the highest responsibilities of freedom. Where the Tea Party failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, this worldwide coalition of determined activists now understand the daily discipline necessary to make democracy real. Bree Newsome’s moment grew out of this expanding movement. Now, the movement knows how to create an infinite array of transformative moments.
Dr. Walter Greason is available on LinkedIn, Twitter (@worldprofessor/@icmgrowth), Facebook, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).