Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

The Road Has Been Prepared~ Kristi

on February 21, 2013

Obama

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Recent events have lessened my worries about raising my biracial daughter as described in “Prepare the Child for the Road.”  About a month ago, I saw a powerful picture of President Barack Obama standing in front of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument.  The symbolism was profound and left me awestruck.  Then, as I watched our first biracial president inaugurated into his second term on the holiday honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I realized that moment was a powerful testimony to what is possible for my biracial child.  There is no position that is off limits to her.

Events like this show me that my daughter’s road has been prepared by a long line of African-Americans who have waged war on racism that I fear.  There were the Civil Rights Movement leaders whose stories are famous and canonized, like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  A new bedtime ritual of reading a deck of “Civil Rights Movement Knowledge Cards” published by the Library of Congress with my daughter has revealed some amazing individuals who have who have gone before her and have paved her road with their blood, sweat, and tears.

Whitney Young Jr. was leader in the Civil Rights Movement’s March on Washington and was a part of the National Urban League.  He focused on improving the poverty, lack of opportunity, and the discrimination of the African-American community when he advised Former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on civil rights.

John Lewis was founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and volunteered to be a Freedom Rider.  Lewis was a leader in the March on Washington in 1963. He led a campaign to register black voters in 1964 and lead a march in Alabama to secure voting rights in 1965.  In his first attempt to march to secure voting rights, the marchers and he were clubbed and beaten by state troopers.  Two weeks later, three thousand people marched again and were guarded by federal troops.

Daisy Bates was determined to change segregation.  Her husband and she owned a weekly newspaper, Arkansas State Press, which spoke out against racial discrimination, police brutality, and other incidents of discrimination.  She was president of the Arkansas NAACP and protected the “Little Rock Nine.”

Marian Wright Edelman was the first African-American woman to pass the bar in Mississippi and worked on integrating schools and to defend civil rights as a lawyer for the Child Development Group of Mississippi.  She encouraged Senator Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark to tour Mississippi and experience the poverty of the African-American community first hand.  After the tour, the federal government began to issue food stamps.  She founded and led the Children’s Defense Fund.

Septima Clark took African Americans to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Citizenship Education Program in Georgia.  African-Americans were taught basic literacy skills to prepare them for the voter registration requirements.  Clark said, “I just thought that you couldn’t get people to register and vote until you could teach them to read and write.”  Also, she had successfully fought for African-American teachers to teach with equal pay to white counterparts in the city of Charleston.  She was fired from her teaching position after forty years because she refused to give up her NAACP membership.  She continued to promote literacy and voter education by creating 897 citizenship schools “in people’s kitchens, in beauty parlors, under trees.”

I honor that so many individuals have gone before to ensure that “…my…child will one day live in a nation where [she] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of [her] character” and where “… all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’ ”  (King’s I Have a Dream Speech)

I am in deep gratitude for the sacrifices of the individuals of the Civil Rights Movement.  When I close my eyes and sit with these Civil Right Movement Leaders’ testimonies, my heart is flooded with respect and admiration.  I admire their courage, strength, and perseverance.  I respect their vision, sense of justice, and fortitude.  Today and every day, I honor their struggle and I am beyond thankful for their willingness to stand up against the violence and vile hatred of American racism.  Because of their struggle, my daughter’s road is one of potential and possibility.  When I think of my daughter’s road, I see all of these individuals standing along it.  They encourage her spirit.  They are guardians of her potential.  They remind her of what is possible.

Maya Angelou said on Facebook, “It is important that we learn humility, which says there was someone else before me who paid for me…”  I take great responsibility for raising my biracial girl to be an excellent human being who is prepared to be all she can be out of respect and humility for all who have come before her.


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