Today, too many would-be movement leaders simply want to be Dr. King or Mrs. Rosa Parks: they want the glory and privilege of leadership without the burdens or sacrifice and sustained hard work. Movements are not built from the top down by powerful leaders but percolate from the bottom up from people who share common grievances.
How far have we come on the road from slavery to freedom isn't just a rhetorical question 150 years later. A people who don't know their history are more likely to repeat it. The resurgence of hate crimes and emergence of mass incarceration of males of color remind us that freedom requires constant vigilance and justice needs a fire that burns in all of us. I believe that we are in the second post Reconstruction era. Although some forms of continuing racial intolerance are overt, some forms are subtle, covert, technical, political, and very polite. Wrapped up in new euphemisms, better etiquette and clever political rhetoric, it's still, as Frederick Douglass warned, the same old snake. Let's call it out systematically, oppose it nonviolently, and move forward on becoming a free and just nation.