08/18/2014 10:57 am ET Updated Oct 18, 2014

Young People Rise

Young People Rise

We are a vibrant society
Young and old, black and white
Hispanic and Asian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous Peoples
Gay and straight, queer and questioning
And everything in-between

We are a civic society
Blue state and red, Democrat and Republican
Independent and Green, apolitical and progressive
North and south, east and west
And every place in between

We are a pluralistic society
Protestant and Catholic, Muslim and Jew
Hindu and Buddhist, atheist and agnostic
Religious and spiritual, devout and indifferent
And every creed in between

We are an unjust society
Of haves over the have nots, privileged over the aggrieved
The advantaged advance and the incarcerated yearn to breathe free
Social elites carefully preserve the status quo ante
Occupying forces are everywhere

In 1964, a young courageous Black-led movement led successful efforts to register Black voters in the Deep South. We called it Freedom Summer. Fifty years later, young Black people face a culture of death that diminishes and extinguishes their life chances without respect of region. Now is the Winter of our Discontent.

Social death dons many forms. Discrimination. Disfranchisement. Disprivilege. Division. Disparity. Miseducation. Law and order. Racial profiling. The prison industrial complex. Institutional corruption. Avarice and greed.

Dying Black youth are the window onto the spiritual trauma that affects an entire nation. The lives of young Black men and women, far from expendable and cheap, are an incredible gift to us. We must cherish them as our children, as our very own. Yet this is not enough. We will love them. We will educate them. We will empower them. We will safeguard them with our very lives.

As the country braces once more for the possibility of war and rumors of war -- in Iraq, Ukraine, Gaza and beyond - and hate crimes abound in the name of faith (Boko Haram), morality (Uganda), politics (U.S. - Mexico borderlands) and health (Ebola) a devastation of epic proportion threatens our land.

We have taken to heart the names of our martyred young men and women even while knowing there are countless more besides: Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Ramarley Graham. Marlene Pinnock. John Crawford. Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Aiyana Jones. Johathan Ferrell. Miriam Carey. Tyisha Miller. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Ezell Ford.

Let us dare to raise our voices for a righteous cause. No more shooting. No more killing. No more death. Young people. Black people. All people. Rise.