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Many involved in Civil Rights Movement
by Roger Smith

This month people all over the country will celebrate black history. They will remember the struggles and tragedies of black people, as well as their triumphs and accomplishments.

The month will also be a time for appreciating those who came before us. I am thankful that I can legally go anywhere regardless of my color. I am thankful that I do have friends who decided to like me because of the content of my character, not because of the color of my skin. But most of all, I am thankful for all the people who paved the way for me, giving me the opportunity to do what I want to do and to be who I want to be, while also giving me the strength to stand up for what I believe in.

Just recently, on January 21, we celebrated the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. He represented the hopes and dreams of black America during the Civil Rights Movement, and, because of his charm and eloquence, he always remained in the spotlight.

However, there were many others of lesser fame who equally contributed to the cause. Charles Houston, sometimes known as the father of the Civil Rights Movement, was a very instrumental part in its success. As vice dean of Howard University's law school, he taught many of the lawyers, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who would eventually participate in and help win the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case. There were also the students known as the Little Rock Nine, and their families, who unselfishly put aside their fears and faced an angry mob many times in order to enter Central High School in Arkansas in an effort to get the Brown decision enforced.

The list goes on: Carter G Woodson, Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy and, A. Phillip Randolph to name a few.

The Civil Rights Movement was not about black and white, it was about right and wrong. There were many white people who were against the progress of blacks, and they showed it. However, there were also those who aided the cause, and, though they were in the minority, their impact was often felt nationwide. There were some who were sympathetic to the problems of blacks, while others were just following the law (in particular, the Fourteenth Amendement to the Constitution, which provides equal protection to all citizens of the United States).

Robert Kennedy's exploits during "the movement" are well known. With a little research, you will find out that Chief Justice Earl Warren, who helped end "separate but equal" in the Brown decision, was a last minute replacement for Chief Justice Fred Vinson, who died unexpectedly and at the time was leaning away from the decision that was made. And, with intensive research, you will find out that Grace Lorch, a white woman, was the one who put her arm around Elizabeth Eckford, of the Little Rock Nine, when she was surrounded by a mob at the bus stop, took her to the bus and then remained with her until she got home safely.

No, this is not a history lesson, but it is a lesson about looking beneath the surface. Blacks have fought valiantly for their own cause but we would be wrong not to acknowledge those whites who have helped us along the way, because without them we would have not succeeded.

When we celebrate black history, we should not only remember the accomplishments of one race but also the combining of many races, as well as two genders, to help attain those accomplishments. America is a young country which, as most of us know, has made many mistakes, but the positive strides it has made have all come about through people realizing a common goal and working together to achieve it.

As a black man, I am proud that black history is celebrated. However, when you put a time frame on certain things, such as Black History Month or Year of the Woman, you take away the significance of those events. Once they are done, people usually tend to forget about them. What we all should do is to remember such events and to incorporate them into our daily lives to make for better people and for a better America.

© 2004-2014 - Roger Smith; All Rights Reserved