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The Voice of the Black Community


Creating a usable past for our future
What 1960s civil rights activism can teach us
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2011 4:52 pm
by Beau DeVaul, Special to The Post

Racism isn’t a word we hear very much anymore.  In the ‘60s, it was a word you couldn’t stop hearing.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s response to racism was heard loud and clear during the March on Washington when he said, “No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waterfalls, and righteousness a mighty stream. Civil rights goes beyond any race of person. People in Egypt and Northern Africa are fighting for theirs, for which is supposed to be their “God given” right.

Civil rights are more important today then we can imagine, and the way we apply them to our daily lives without knowing is astonishing. What you know about your past sets your future.

Again, Northern Africa and Egypt face civil unrest. One will find protests, just like we have witnessed in America. Could this be our civil rights movement reincarnated? Some may say yes; some may say no. Here in Charlotte, Harding High School, a predominately black school was to be shut down, but there was a protest that kept it open.

Because E.E. Waddell is so close and has a “higher priority rate” CMS does not want to close it. Students believe that because they are black, they are not a high priority, and so they will fight to show they are just as high a priority as anyone else. If I were to change a photo from color to black and white, and compare it to a black and white photo from the ‘60s, would you be able to tell which was which? My ninth-grade honors English I class couldn’t. So to say that civil rights is not important seems to be far from reality, which leads me to the question, is the Civil rights movement really over?

Classrooms for many are a time to socialize, a time to joke around and talk to your friends. A classroom full of colors, blacks, browns, whites, tans, we see them all. A classroom in the 60’s was quite the opposite. A solid color. One race. One classroom. In 1954, the year of Brown vs. Board of Education, a change occurred. We began to exploit the truth of the so called, “Separate but equal.” People fought and died for the right to simply learn in the same classroom as others.

How do we repay them? We fail our classes; some even drop out of high school. So for us, I mean every student, the way we should repay them is by passing our classes, graduating high school, and even going to college. Walking this Earth, always thinking about what people gave up for me gives me the strength to apply it to my daily life. I always think of how I can better myself in their honor of their sacrifices. However, I do not live a life that they had to. I am truly blessed for the life I have, not just because I don’t live in segregation, but because my parents have instilled morals and values in me. Your life is what you make it. Therefore, you should live a life grateful to those who sacrificed in an effort to better your life as it is today.

People say, “Live for the moment, live for the present,” but if I do, what will happen to my future? Will it simply be there? It won’t. It will crumble in my hands the very second I touch it. So to say to live for the moment, you mean to ignore life’s problems?

What if the people living in the ‘50s and ‘60s decided to ignore the problem of segregation? Schools, parks, YMCAs, water fountains, they would all be segregated. If we do not think about the future, it is sure to doom our future generations and ourselves. Knowing your history gives you knowledge about how you can improve your future.

Our present directly affects our future, because how we conduct ourselves now determines our future. Take pollution and global warming for example. If we do not lower our fuel emissions in 10 years, we could be putting our planet and it’s life forms in danger. See what I mean?

Another valid example took place in Greensboro. Four African American students staged a lunch counter sit-in, which to some sparked sit-ins across the nation. Now what if they hadn’t? Along with protests and boycotts, sit-ins were perhaps one of the most important parts of the civil rights movement. It showed America that we would no longer tolerate being forced to follow laws that were a fine example of injustice. We would no longer be scared of those dogs and fire hydrants that Bull Connor and other tyrants used to deter us. There is no future if you don’t know your past.

So you tell me. Is the civil rights movement an ongoing battle, or did it die decades ago? In any case, lessons of the past should be applied to our daily lives, and will indeed help our future.

I believe in change. As the world changes, you must change with it, but with that change, don’t neglect your past. If you do not understand your past, you are bound to repeat it.

BEAU DEVAUL is a freshman at Mallard Creek High School.


Posted on November 9, 2011
Good editorial Beau. It is so refreshing to know that someone of your generation appreciates the struggles that "OUR forefathers" encountered. It is very refreshing as well to know that the struggles of the 60's Civil Rights movement are no longer the struggles of todays Civil Rights movements- we have made great strides. Those battles that were won on Our , Your behalf were well fought. Now with that said, I am the parent of a rising senior at Mallard Creek. I want to admonish, encourage as well as challenge you to remember and pay homage to those past struggles and strides in a different way. Being the product or of the generation directly to benefit of those great strides- We were the ones to be the recipents of both the Love and Pride the previous generation bestowed on their Future- Somewhere we lost the Pride and Love for our Future. Somewhere when we gained the right to be educated not only the same way but in the same place, we lost our comradship- thus making us in a sense, every man for himself. While we have made great strides for our own individual success, what have we done for our own right to exist as a people in society as ourselves. I admonish you and my own children to put The Love and Pride back into US as well as others- The Good Book tells us to Love your neighbor as yourself- If we don't Love and Respect Ourselves first, we have no real love for others-I challenge your generation with the responsibility to Love and Respect each other's accomplishments, failures, weaknesses-to make them and Us strong. In our struggle to become Equal we forgot to strenghten our weak thus weakening our Ranks. When you endeavor to achieve your full potential, remember not so much your struggle- you may not have had one, but remember the struggle and why there was a struggle--The FUTURE, Yours- Mine, OURS. Be Blessed and Prosperous my young friend and always give OUR youth your respect, love and pride.
Posted on May 25, 2011
Beau: You continue to grow our pride.
Posted on May 15, 2011
Way to go Beau! It's good to see that some of our young people actually appreciate the sacrafices that have been made for them. Don't allow anyone discourage you from being a positive role model.
Posted on April 13, 2011
You go, Beau !! Welcome to the writing gene pool.
Posted on April 12, 2011
Great article Beau, this is your Aunt Brenda and I am very proud of you!
Posted on April 12, 2011

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