I was insulted as a young Black child every day during my formative years. Everywhere I went, I saw signs which tried to reinforce that as a person with a Black face, I was “less than.”
My introduction to Mr. Rutledge Pearson at age eleven and joining the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP helped me understand my Blackness and taught me the fight against Racism and human dignity and Respect, even at my so-called “precocious age,” was more than necessary.
On this so-called Independence Day commemorating this country’s independence, the fight against Racism and for Black human dignity and Respect is even more critical for me as a Black man.
You do not fight Racism expecting its riddance immediately or shortly. Racism is too embedded and too embraced by White America to expect its dissolution overnight. The same goes for White privilege. And as we can see, Racism and White privilege today are as evil, vulgar, and insidious as ever.
So, you hope one day, those who come after you will not have to fight just like our parents, grandparents, and many Black pioneers fought for us, and some of us continue to fight.
If you do not understand your Black skin hue, I ask, “If not now, when?” Racism has not diminished in this country, not one iota. Yet, many of us think and act as if there is no need to continue to fight. Although our ancestors, our freedom fighters, thought that our era would have won the fight, we find today the fight is still a fight.
James Weldon Johnson captured the essence of the struggle very well when he penned in the immortal “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” “Let us march on, ‘til victory is won.”
You might think it sounds corny, but James Weldon Johnson accurately stated the case if you understand your struggle. Racism is as disrespectful and insulting today as it was for an eleven-year-old boy trying to understand.
Mr. Pearson used to say to us, his students and Youth Council NAACP members, “If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”
The signs are gone, but Racism is not. On this Independence Day not intended for our Black ancestors when initially celebrated, Which are you? The Problem or the Solution?” The Struggle Continues!
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.