50 Years Later, A Promise for Change is Unkept
Politics and Activism

50 Years Later, A Promise for Change is Unkept

From the Detroit riots in '67 to Charlottesville, the promise for change diverged from its path

50 Years Later, A Promise for Change is Unkept
NBC News

Where were you, on August 12, 2017, when you heard about Charlottesville? I was at home on the verge of falling asleep, but I became fully awake when I read about it on my Twitter feed. Immediately, the normal questions started popping into my head such as, "How could this happen?," "Why would someone do this?," and "Haven't we overcome this yet?" The answer to the last question is always no, we have not. I have come to believe that change may have happened, but America is still stuck in its same ways. If that wasn't the case, we would not have both our current President and other people coming out of the woodwork threatening groups of people. Events, similar to this one, continue to happen, and they continue to cause hate within our country. Before I continue with writing about the events in Charlottesville and how in 50 years we have barely overcome such hatred, I would like to share a poem. I wrote it a little over a year ago after the events in Orlando. It rings true with what happened a little over a week ago, and I was hoping it might make at least one person who reads it think about how to proceed.

Pain Violence Death

All three words connected

So why do we let it go on?

There is a strangeness to it:

We fight with each other

To be able to fight them.

But there is more good than evil.

Problems remain within the good,

Hate and corruption divide us.

Why must we let it do that?

The goal is the same for all:

Happiness Peace Love

All three words connect us.

Now, I would like to move on to one of the main reasons why I wrote this article. On August 14th, I was finally able to go see the Detroit movie and I could not stop comparing it to Charlottesville. It is sad, but true, that the world is starting to take a step back, instead of forward.

In case you are reading this and you have not seen the movie, (which I very much recommend), then I would like to give a brief summary. It obviously is about the Detroit riots, but centers on the events that occurred at the Algiers Motel, which marked the end of the riots. Police claimed they were attacked by a sniper rifle coming from the Annex building of the motel. They proceeded to raid the hotel using enhanced “interrogation” tactics, meaning beatings and intense scare tactics to figure out who the sniper was. The only “weapon” ever found was a toy starter pistol, but yet, three boys were killed. Obviously, the movie was not a work of nonfiction and was overdramatized to bring about a certain effect, but most of the realities remained true to the facts of witness statements and court hearings. Melvin Dismukes, a security guard that tried to intervene, claims, “It is 99.5% accurate as to what went down at the Algiers and in the city at the time.” I believe him; he has no reason to exaggerate or lie 50 years later. Additionally, continued events of racism since the Detroit riots have upped my belief that this is what really happened that night. What happened at the Algiers Motel occurred on July 26, 1967; that is 50 years, two weeks, and three days apart from what happened to Charlottesville. That is a long time, but look at the similarities. One had protagonists that were white, racists in power; the other had white racists with a permit. The victims in Detroit were hanging out, innocently, in their motel rooms, and in Charlottesville, they were peaceful protestors who were also innocent. People were killed in both situations. In 1967, the cops were cleared of all charges. In 2017, the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were backed and supported by the President of the United States. While of course there were many differences in each case, the similarities are uncanny, and although I would like to question how we got here, I know that I cannot. The answer is not about what is happening currently; it is about the severe lack of progress there has been over the last 50 years. The truly evil people in this country have been hiding away for a long while, well most of them at least, but this President has given them a chance to show themselves and band together. What is scary about that is that the President does not even care. He is comfortable moving on and letting them be because he is a racist himself. How else could he say that the peaceful protestors that were attacked were equally to blame for what happened?

Since this is where we are, that leads me to my last question: Where do we go from here? All I can say is that people of the left and/or people who are not morally corrupt need to continue to come together. As I wrote in my poem, love connects us; therefore, we need to stay connected. We need to continue to be educated and open to listening to people that are different from ourselves. Join an organization that will teach you about civil rights such as the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, and so many others. One of the best things I ever did was go to a bunch of Black Student Union meetings my freshman year of college. It opened me up to a bunch of viewpoints that I would not have been capable of knowing if I had not gone. I believe I am a different person for it. Therefore, I ask that anyone that reads this article to at least listen to two people that come from different backgrounds than you. Hear what they have to say about Charlottesville and other issues. Share your thoughts as well, and create an open dialogue with understanding. If we continue to close ourselves off from others, we will never be able to create the change that was promised 50 years ago to the majority of the community in the United States known as “minorities.”

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