GUEST COLUMN: Legacy of black leaders continues today
Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal." This quote has resonated in American hearts since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the concept of the American dream was solidified through these words.
Although the colonies declared independence 236 years ago, African Americans have had legal civil rights for only the past 43 years. The idea of an ever, all-encompassing equality remained unfulfilled for nearly 200 years.
The big names of the civil rights movement were central to my upbringing. Learning that change is accomplished when people come together in unity was the most inspirational realization I ever had. I'm forever in debt to those who fought for my parents' right to marry despite being of different races, my right to become an Aggie, the right for President Obama to be in office, and so much more.
Today, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation, we stand on the shoulders of those Civil Rights giants — Dr. King, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte, Fred Shuttlesworth and many more. These heroes did more than fight for the rights of African Americans. There was a greater fight — a war — to fulfill and uphold that promise of the Declaration of Independence.
As we enter into a new age, which many people will call the "Post-Racial Obama Era," it must be understood that our generation still has a fight, although it is not the legal one of our grandparents' day and age. We have the rights that too many died for. Our job, our call to be great, is a cultural one.
Legal equality in no way means a "post-racial era." We must first overcome the prejudicial barriers from sea to shining sea that harbor hate, judgment, and division before we can even hope to define this era as such. We've come so far as a nation, but that doesn't mean we're done.
As we enter into February, we need to understand why we — not only African Americans, but all Americans — should celebrate black history. The month offers a time for all of us to pay reverence to those who saved this country from inequality's bonds. However, it's not simply a time for reflection. We must remember that people in this country still face discriminatory battles every day.
Yet, despite this, I have hope.
I was raised to know of heroes that changed the face of America. To me, that's what Black History Month represents: hope for an even better future than our giants imagined.
Aja Holston is a sophomore political science major.