I had a conversation a few days ago with my niece, Jasmine Shortt, about the importance of young African Americans knowing and understanding the history of what people have sacrificed over the past 400+ years, so that long standing institutions based on racial hatred, assumed superiority and economic benefits for the ruling class no longer have the type of stranglehold and taint on this country that they did at one time. Many young people don't know, or if they do, they don't understand what it means to them because people have a tendency to preach instead of teach. In my opinion, history has be broken down, put into context, and made personal to THEM. Otherwise, it's all about the Hamlet effect: "Words, words, words."
What I told Jasmine is that many people died so that her grandparents, my parents, could own their home at 8420 Fawcett Avenue in Tacoma, Washington and at 2124 Kirk Way in Sacramento, California. The house in Tacoma was in a mostly White neighborhood. It was nearly impossible for most Africans Americans to live in a neighborhood like that prior to the Civil Rights Movement. This is important for young people of all races to understand, not just AfrIcan Americans. The life they have now is the direct result of people being beaten, lynched, sprayed with water hoses and attacked by huge German Shepards. The end result of these painful sacrifices was that de jure segregation (meaning segregation was the law) ended, and my parents were able to buy homes, and my siblings and I attended schools that would have been forbidden to my parents. And my children, niece and grandson haven't had to experience that kind of life, except through the stories I tell them. And I would like the stories they tell their children to be even better.
I wanted to perhaps show how people have literally been dying for centuries in the most grisly ways, but the pictures I viewed were simply too much for most of the people here on Facebook. They are absolutely horrific. But this is part of America's history, and it kept happening until enough people stood up, Black and White, were united after a Chicago teenager named Emmett Till, visiting relatives in Mississippi, was beaten and mutilated beyond what would seem humanly possible. Then his body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River. That was the first lightning rod for what would become the Civil Rights Movement. I can't tell you how this makes me feel to read about the Emmett Till murder, since it happened only three years before I was born. I can only say that I kept shivering, and it is not cold here in Sacramento. I have lived a very good life, thanks to them. If you want to know more about Emmett Till and the Civil Rights Movement, check this web page on Biography:http://www.biography.com/people/emmett-till-507515#synopsis
On Biography.com, follow the tragic story of Emmett Till, who was tortured and killed after supposedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955.