We Shall Overcome

Last night when I tried to sleep, I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop crying,
which makes sleep difficult. When I finally drifted off to sleep I was jolted
awake by what I thought were gunshots. I was literally gasping for air trying
to escape. Every time this happens I get mad. We cry, we hold vigils, and we go
home and vow that we will be better, work harder. But we never see real change.
Yes, there are people who are doing this work on a daily basis trying to make a
difference.

But if we only raise our voices when the horrific
happens, we give our oppressors an opportunity to ignore our needs and silence
our voices.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never allowed his voice to be
silenced. Arguably the greatest orator, leader, and visionary of all time, he
participated in protests, sit-ins, and other organized movements to fight for
the vision of the future. Dr. King solidified his place in history simply by
being present, speaking up AND out against social injustices, and articulating
his vision for what he believed America could become.

“I am happy to join you today in what will go down in history as the
greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” Dr. MLK, Jr.

Though he is one of the prominent figures of the Civil
Rights Era, he did not do this work alone. Leaders such as Rosa Parks, Malcolm
X, Huey P Newton, and Ella Baker all contributed to impacting social change
towards a more equal and equitable society.

However, we are no longer in the Civil Rights Movement. A half century
later, we live a new reality.

A reality in which:

A reality where:

A reality that
encourages us to develop a new:

Perspective
(Just Another Black Body)

 Imagine
standing in shoes

Covered
with hue

As
the street is painted maroon

Watching
helplessly

As
the still body lie on its back

Faded
to black

Another
black body meeting its maker

Like
a permanent marker

Staining
the ground

Sirens
sound

Humanity
denied

Lights
flashing before the family’s eyes

Colors
reminiscent of a flag

That
cares not for the black body

Yet
protects the innocent hero

The
boy in blue

Who
had no other choice

But
to use the chamber as an excuse

The
children who lost their foundation cry

The
mother she tries

To
keep it all together inside

Their
worst nightmare come around

As
they witness the black body that they loved

Suffer
the same fate as Mike Brown

Jon Bright, www.thatguywhowrote.wordpress.com

*This poem was
created and dedicated to Alton Sterling who was recently killed by police
officers on July 5th in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Executed in cold
blood and all caught on camera. He did not deserve to have his life taken that
day. The pain that his family is going through right now is something that I
never want to experience but something that can happen to any of us at any
time. I pray for the family and I hope that we can one day beat/overcome the
atrocities that the police/justice system imposes on people of color.

You get to be angry. You get to be mad,
frustrated, and sad. You get to scream or cry if you feel the need. Under no
circumstances are we required to pretend that our “Black Magic”
protects us from the hurt we face on a daily basis. Even the strongest people
struggle when cops are engaging in genocide. Killing our children for sport,
playing a game called fear. You get to be angry. But when we’re done being
angry, we need action. We can’t keep saying what we need without working for
what we need. We are stronger together, but are we standing together? We can
use our collective power to strengthen our communities. Are we voting? Getting
involved with the legislative process? We deserve better and it’s past time we
demand it. Not when the trauma happens, but long after the cameras are gone. We
need better schools, better police practices. We just need better. There are
lots of ways to get involved in our fight for freedom. Grieve. Heal. Practice
self-care. But when we are done grieving, we have work to do.

We need to turn our anger into action.

In 2016, it certainly feels like history is repeating
itself. And fortunately or unfortunately, we cannot bring back the Civil Rights
Leaders who devoted their lives to making a difference – to being the difference. This
is OUR time.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other
time. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
President Barack Obama

This statement from President Obama is our call to action.
Who are going to be the Civil Rights Leaders of our generation? Who is going to
inspire a vision we will follow? Who is going to organize and mobilize local
communities to push for change? Who is going to lead with integrity because it
is the right thing to do?

Why not me? Why not you? Why not us?

We can’t lose hope. We won’t lose hope.

We commit to serving as leaders in this movement rooted in
creating social change. However, we cannot do it alone. Time, energy, and a
genuine investment in our vision are required to truly free ourselves from the
hope of yesterday and practice faith in the future of tomorrow.

Where do we go from here?

We don’t have all the answers. In fact, we need your help.
We need each other. Your creativity, strength, strategy, courage, inspiration,
passion, authenticity, optimism, and patience are extremely important to
changing the direction of the future.

“I believe that unarmed truth
and unconditional love will have the final say in reality. This is why right,
temporarily defeated, stronger than evil triumphant.” Dr. MLK, Jr.

We too believe the unarmed truth and unconditional love will
have the final say in reality.
Yes – we are tired, exhausted, confused, hurt, and everything in between.

However, we must keep marching. Marching for the 123
African-Americans who have been killed by the police this year. Marching for
the Civil Rights Leaders who fought “to make justice a reality for all of God’s
children.” Marching for our ancestors who fought for us to be free despite the
incongruence of society values our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Our words say Black Lives Matter. Our hearts say
Black Lives Matter. But what do our actions say?

We need our laws to reflect that our lives matter. We need our
politicians to believe that black lives matter. But most importantly, we need
our culture to reflect that black lives matter. We can no longer accept the
passiveness that allows our oppression to grow. We need to fight against the
idea that we are equal, when every 28 hours we see how false that is. It’s
time. Perhaps it’s always been time. But if we are willing to work together,
perhaps this can be the last time.

Stay woke. Soon, we will join together to redefine the greatest
demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

“Free
at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last.”

Together, we shall
overcome.

Karli Wells and Tim Bryson

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