The long civil rights movement: "Everything has changed. Nothing has changed."


MLK 50 years march Via Paul J. Richards, AFP-Getty Images  Photo: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images, courtesy of USA Today

As I watch the diverse, passionate crowds of thousands ("as high as 200,000" per MSNBC) of caring, patriotic Americans who understand what justice is and should be-- who see Republicans doing everything they can to turn back the clock and snatch democracy away from us as their last desperate attempt to win elections, who are ready to fight for voting rights, civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, equal rights-- my eyes well up with tears.

The depth of what I'm feeling can't possibly be expressed here, and I'm not even quite sure what it is. Whatever it is, it's complicated and it's real.

People have died for all of those rights. People have been abused, beaten, and killed standing up for those rights. People have watched, screamed, defied, marched, fought, suffered, and wept standing up for those rights.

Today we have cell phones, social media, TV screens, streaming audio and video, YouTube, Jumbotrons, and other sources of insta-info to get messages to each other, to share our battles, our sorrows, our determination, and our urgent and mandatory calls for organization. This is how we try to solve our problems as newspapers die and right wing extremists monopolize the air waves.  We now march physically and virtually. And that offers us opportunities we never had before.

As I sit here listening, watching speaker after speaker at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I continue to tear up with pride, anger, frustration, shame, and hope.

We have to win this once and for all. We have no choice.

Without the right to vote, free and easy access to the polls, the ability to use our voices, we are not free and there is no democratic America.

Listen to those at the podium. Watch the historical clips as well as the current ones. Read. Inform yourselves. And just as important, inform others. Don't let ignorance and bigotry destroy what so many have sacrificed for.

That's why we're here. That's what we can do. Use your voice, listen, watch, share, and educate.

As Rev. Joseph Lowery, founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is saying right now: "Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. We come to Washington to commemorate, we're going back home to agitate."

Never stop fighting for your civil rights, not ever. Stand your ground.

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