Our friend Ernest Hopkins writes:
Great article at the Root.com that highlights the role of violence in the struggle for race based Civil Rights and tensions that exist between intellectuals and individuals who would rather strip the movement of its essential moments of violence that blew open locked doors and paved paths for our march to freedom. I know we are bound by respectability politics, but we don’t need to soften the hard core that secured our rights. Let’s celebrate the entire movement, rock throwing and all.
Yes. The hypocrisy represented by Texas A&M University’s rebuke of Professor Tommy Curry is burned into the American narrative. “The shot heard round the world,” which refers to the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord that began the Revolutionary War, is memorialized in statues and obelisks and in poems by Emerson and Longfellow, and on Patriots’ Day by the Boston Marathon. As a child in school in Maryland I memorized “Paul Revere’s Ride,” which told of alerting the Minutemen the night before the battles, “For the countryfolk to be up and to arm.”
At some point I also learned of the Underground Railroad, and of the fictional Eliza’s escape over ice floes across the Ohio River as Uncle Tom died a martyr rather than tell where she ran. They did not teach us about the Nat Turner Rebellion, or about slave patrols that became police departments. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan called Nelson Mandela a terrorist for doing essentially as the Minutemen had done. I had to learn on my own that Madiba had resorted to “The Spear of the Nation” only after his peaceful efforts as an ANC attorney were brutally rebuked by the Apartheid regime. I had to read for myself his defiant words at the treason trial in Rivonia, which reminded me of Jefferson in the Declaration. I watched on television as he walked out of prison like a returning ruler, and years later when another American president spoke at his memorial.
Reclaiming and correcting history is a long struggle. But if America is to be one nation, we cannot accept a norm whereby my brave ancestors are honored as patriots while yours are reviled as terrorists, or erased or emasculated, when both sets of forebears shed their blood for freedom. The double standard is glaring and insults our intelligence, as does the Confederate throwback who is still fighting the Civil War as attorney general. So much struggle still ahead.