It Sounds Like a Symbolic Gesture

Freedom never descends upon the people. It’s always bought with price.

Henry Moore

The five pictures exhibited represent the questions we need to ask ourselves. What does Black Lives Matter mean to you? Whatever the answer is, how will you know when we have it? How will you measure it and what will you do to accomplish it? Our ancestors would have died in vain if we haven’t accomplished it. Freedom only comes after you have economic power. As Dr. King said, America has defaulted on its promissory note. This country’s wealth has been built upon our backs since its inception, for over 400 years, and we have never been adequately compensated. Our wealth should be attached to the nation’s Gross National Product. Freedom will not come until we have political power: One Man One Vote. Freedom will not come until our judicial system is just and disproportionality erased from the highest courts to local law enforcement. Freedom will not come until we own and control our means of communication from daily newspapers to television to radio to cyberspace. Freedom will not come until we have moved from consumers to producers and own the means of production, not just having jobs but providing jobs. Freedom will not come until we have education in the skilled trades, transportation, information, finance, investment, insurance, real estate, professional, scientific and technical services.

Before Apartheid
Our 400 years of enslavement began before apartheid. In South Africa the Dutch, the first settlers to arrive followed by the British, forcibly took over the land and made native Africans slaves to work on plantations. Later the Europeans would import more slaves from other areas such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar. Immigrants from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would later migrate to South Africa in search of cheap labor and were employed as indentured servants.

50 Years In Chains

The black box in the L in LIVES in the BLM mural represents the difficulties of 400 years of enslavement. The red box represents the struggle for freedom. The chains beneath the feet of Charles Ball represent the multiple times he escaped from slavery and was recaptured. In 1813 while a free man he enlisted in the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla and fought in the War of 1812. The green box represents a future with greener pastures. Curtis Mayfield’s song People Get Ready is calling for us to join the movement and continue the struggle through voter participation.

The Colors

According to the UNIA more recently, the three colors on the Black Nationalist flag represent: RED: the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation; BLACK: black people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag; and GREEN: the abundant natural wealth of Africa. Designed by: Marcus Garvey Adopted: 13 August 1920.

The Corona
The National Museum of African American History & Culture distinctive three-tiered form known as the corona is in an evocative symbol of traditional influences and ideas that have defined the shape of the African-American experience. In designing the upward-angled shape of the Corona, the architects drew inspiration from Yoruba architecture.

Bridging the Generations: A Solution

There is a failure to communicate in African American institutions, churches, community and family. This has led to ineffectiveness in our social justice concerns as illustrated in the article Under One Roof, Divergent Views on ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Here is one solution to bridging the generations.

Level I: Icons: The 60 Plus Generation

The people in this generation are the ones who have shown community service and activism.  They represent tremendous amounts of wisdom, knowledge, experience and history that could be passed on to younger generations. There could be an annual forum where they can provide wisdom and moral support but not make policy.  A small group of 5 or so would mine the resources of their age group and recommend individuals to bring their wisdom, history and experience to the late career generation.

Level II: Late Career Generation

There is a late career generation (40 – 65) that has skills, resources, contacts and finances to contribute. They can consult with the Level I Icons and bring resources and raise funds for Levels III and IV but do not need to provide a lot of time nor make policy.

Level III: Early Career Generation

The early career folks (25 – 40) have challenges such as moving ahead in their jobs, raising children and navigating them through institutions such as school. They also have fairly recent education, housing, job hunting experiences and more. Having just gone through or presently going through these challenges should give them insights for developing policies. They can become advocates for children. They would train and check in on the young adults and respond to questions and concerns.

Level IV: The Dreamers

Young adults (18 – 30) are the dreamers. When Martin Luther King Jr spoke about having a dream this is who he was. They have ambition, time, energy, security, not as many responsibilities. They will survey the needs of adolescents and their communities.  They can develop programs and then carry out policies and programs. They can take risks, experiment with new challenges. They can relate to the struggles of young adolescents, mentor them, do peer counseling and provide role models for them.  They can work with younger children to meet their needs, develop services for themselves and younger folk,  at the same time gaining experience. This is CORE. This is SNCC. They are the SCLC field staff, the NAACP youth organization, the equivalent of the protesters of the 60’s. They are Black Lives Matter.

Level V: Our Future

Adolescents (12 – 18) are the target for programs carried out by The Dreamers. They need to be educated, made aware of future challenges and how they can be prepared for them. They can be guided toward broader opportunities, public service and the fun and satisfaction of working with others toward a common goal. Make up and size of target groups of adolescents need to be managed and controlled. Each group should be culturally, ethnically and economically mixed. Each group of 12 – 18 year olds should be small enough to comfortably meet in a home (10 – 12 people) so an institution is not needed to provide a meeting place. Perhaps meetings could rotate among the homes of the participants, thus maintaining communication with parents.