THE BLOG
03/03/2014 11:33 am ET Updated May 03, 2014

While We Celebrate the Oscars, We Can't Abort the Flight to Equality

Yesterday was a momentous occasion for actors, filmmakers and everyone pushing for greater representation and depictions in Hollywood. I was very happy to see 12 Years a Slave win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, as well as Lupita Nyong'o take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her breakout role in that tremendous film based on the true life of Solomon Northup. It was a moment of pride, just as the same pride I felt last Thursday when I sat in the East Room of the White House a few feet from President Obama while he announced his new initiative aimed at uplifting young men of color titled 'My Brother's Keeper'. Surrounded by young minority men, the president shared very personal details about his own struggles and some of the barriers that young men of color especially must overcome. But before I let the historic moment sweep me away, I looked to my left at the parents of both Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, and thought that our work is far from over. Also seated behind us in the room was Congressman John Lewis, who 49 years ago this month led peaceful protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and found himself and others under brutal attack by Alabama state troopers in what would later be known as 'Bloody Sunday'. Last night, it became more clear than ever that great moments come out of great movements filled with selfless sacrifice.

The road to equality and justice is paved with the tireless work of countless individuals that opened doors so that others could kick them down later. That has been the history of how progress has emerged everywhere. Today, while we celebrate our achievements, whether it be the election of the first African American president, Oscar wins, reforms of stop-and-frisk police tactics, minority and female members of Congress and the Senate, and many other collective gains, we must be mindful that we cannot abort the flight to equality. We have gotten through some of the turbulence in the journey, but anyone who flies as much as I do knows that there may be more ahead and you don't get off the flight until you have arrived at the terminal.

In today's society, there are several areas in which we are struggling to close the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Economic inequality, the education gap and high unemployment rates are a few of those key areas. In addition, we must reverse egregious laws like 'stand your ground' that allow people to virtually shoot first and ask questions later. Across the country, this law is being invoked in so many cases that it has reached a point that is beyond alarming. Whether it's a Black kid walking through a gated community, or a White father texting his babysitter, this law cannot and should not be invoked, nor implied by jury instructions. That is why I am taking the fight to Tallahassee as we campaign to have this outrageous law removed from the books. As the birthplace of 'stand your ground', I can think of nowhere more pertinent than the state of Florida in our journey for justice. On Monday, March 10, I will be joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, as well as attorney Benjamin Crump and others as we march from the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center to the State Capitol. A rally will immediately follow the march. It is up to us to demand a change.

It was decades ago that I began my work for justice, equality and greater civil rights for all. And I will continue my work whether in Tallahassee or wherever the need is. Victories that have been won by the greats like John Lewis and others laid the foundation for my generation and the generation behind me to continue the work. We must look at those struggles and those achievements as assurance that if we continue to peacefully and strategically fight, we too can win. As much as I am being a party pooper the day after the Oscars, I remind you that challenges remain. But I am absolutely convinced that the victory is certain.

We just have to remember that we cannot abort the flight to equality; we haven't quite landed just yet.

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