The March for Our Lives this weekend with hundreds of thousands of students around the nation and across the globe protest gun violence with resolute voices to change how we live. Tired, hurt, sleep deprived and fed up brothers and sisters; their cries, their grief stain our souls.
They’re fighting for school safety and a safer nation through stricter gun laws accompanying a stringent focus on mental health to curb the chances for murdering madmen with assault weapons running rampant and instilling fear and tragedy in our existence. School, concert, church, and street murders and police killing of black men tear, threaten and taunt us; violence is out of control, they say, and demand that elected officials act or pay penance at the polls.
Fifty years ago, it was outraged and brave college students who led the protests, marching against the Vietnam War, and it was courageous and persistent black college students who annoyed businesses with sit-ins at corner drug stores and led to a broader Civil Rights Movement.
Persistent foot soldiers and activist leaders in the long haul resisted oppression, injustice, and unfairness of separate but equal affronts. A century ago, unimaginable numbers fought and died in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality. The color line separated colored folk from privileged whites that dictated “whites only bathrooms, restaurants, water fountains, neighborhoods, and jobs.” Segregation ruled, and justice was not blind for colored folk.
Today the civil rights issue remains in Urban and the nation’s communities around the nation infested by episodic and epidemic murders by fire arms, proliferating unsafe neighborhoods. Gun violence inhibits freedom everywhere, and African-Americans with equality gains in jeopardy, cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and wait. We cannot afford to wait. Gun violence touches nearly everyone or threatens the environment and livelihood of victims and survivors of the fallen.
In this gun culture of repetitive fatal shootings, I often think of my brother, David, a fire arm victim who bled to death in his front yard while scared, apathetic, nonsnitching diehard neighbors watched and of my two boyfriends, Johnny and Bobby, who died from assault weapons thirty years ago.
And I recall looking down the barrel of a lover’s gun and that morning my mother and my siblings ran away from a gun-toting daddy in alcoholic rage. The grief and anguish are tucked in corridors of hearts and minds forever. On Saturday morning, I cried with marchers and powerful performers as inspirational, eloquent and passionate students demanded change without voicing party or politics. It’s an everyday volatile issue affecting all. If one of us is endangered, all of us are in danger.
We the people — black, white, brown, red, straight, gay, lesbian, transgender and transexual — must rise up hand in hand. This is a nation with too much to lose “with one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all” but there’s mass shooting and gun slayings in schools, churches, concerts, and night clubs, to victims of robbery, domestic violence, drug-related and poverty and mass incaceration. “Change is gonna come,” soul singer Sam Cooke sang. Fall back is not an option. Forward is the only opportunity to protect gains and continue unfinished business. In the words of rhythm and blues singer Teddy Pendergrass sings “Wake up everybody. No more sleeping…”
The comatose among us wait while the tractor-trailer rams the nation. #RiseUpforDemocracy is an urgent requirement for American gatekeepers and those fear a diminishing right to bear arms. With these ubiquitous travesties of democracy (freedom and justice), sleeping giants in Congress and other public figures awake long enough to say “our thoughts and prayers…”
Once again a group of student aggressors take charge. These articulate young people say they’re in it for “the long haul.” Along with Women’s Day marchers, student chutzpah, in modern time, is a rare and phenomenal adversity to gun lobby and lackadaisical Congressional leaders.
Martin Luther King Jr., who led the country in a non-violent stance for change, said there is “no darkness without light.” Therefore, better days are coming. Who would’ve predicted that five decades later we’re in this perilous place again and students again lead the way?
Democracy is at the root and rhythm for the freedom, a constant struggle. What’s taken so long for boisterous voices to challenge wrongs and indifferences? Rise up in unity for security, dignity and peace even without defaults by powerful, deaf adult leaders to oratory by students and people in fear, and the ones who beg for change in a culturally violent society. #NeverAgain.