02/08/2013 09:40 am ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

Never Would Have Made It Without You, Rosa Parks

I think it would mock her memory. We must remember that Rosa Parks is in history because she actively pursued social justice and never stopped challenging us and never stopped challenging the issues of injustice. And I think she would have absolutely been dishonored and displeased if she felt that all we did was make great memorials to her and not challenge people to do what she did.

- Rev. Al Sharpton, NPR Interview

When most of us think of the Civil Rights movement time period, we tend to mask it in the voices of blacks and segregation. Although desegregation was a huge part of the message and focus, when you pay close attention to the civil rights act, voting rights act and the elected officials that were elected during the period of the civil rights movement, we find that it meant so much more. The Voting Rights Act outlawed major forms of discrimination regardless of racial, ethnic, nationality, religious minorities and women. The act sought protections for those who were still vulnerable to the tactics of gerrymandering, and grandfather clauses. Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act legislation negotiated and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson sought to protect the rights of all people and creed around accommodations and housing. The great society package also crafted and promoted by Johnson were major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems and transportation. The struggle provided.

I'm no stranger to utilizing the tactics of non-violent direct action, protest, demonstrations, press conferences, rallies and prayer vigils to send a message and urge intensity around injustices and issues. Highly criticized by those who are opposite of those issues, I am amazed that some repeat the same, consistent statement: "Rev. that doesn't work anymore." Then I reflect on issues like Trayvon Martin, Michigan's Emergency Management legislation and Voter I.D laws -- all of these issues that we fought and won last year because of organizations like National Action Network, which sheds the light where issues might have gotten swept under the rug.

There are those that try to put blinders on their eyes and act like the society we live in is absent of issues and injustice. They criticize the tactics we use, and call them mere relics of the past. However, you don't have to look far to see that injustice stands firmly in front of us and issues like Immigration, Voting Rights, Gun Violence, Marriage Equality, Jobs, poverty and Urban Education exist and require our attention and action.

We need immigration reform and we need it now. We must support and fight for legislation that addresses immigration. The tragedy of the conditions that people are living in right here in the U.S is deplorable, and must be addressed. The brutality of Immigration officers who tear families apart, and the exploitation of workers almost mimics the conditions of slavery and should not be tolerated. This country has served as a harbor of hope for immigrants across the world ever since Christopher Columbus stepped on land and "discovered" America. The struggle continues.

At the end of this month the supreme court will be hearing arguments on section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

As reported by the USA TODAY

That "pre-clearance" requirement targets all or part of 16 states, including Alabama, that have a history of discriminating against minorities at the ballot box.

Hence all of this happens right in the heat of the 2012 elections, when southern states and northern states were working diligently to implement voter I.d laws that are known to disproportionately effect and disenfranchise African Americans who vote in high numbers for democrats. Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania republican legislator, Mike Turzai, stated in this YouTube clip

Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done,"

Need I say more? Fifty years after the voting rights act the struggle continues.

Hadiya Pendleton was a student in Chicago who had just gotten back from marching in the inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. with her school band. She was shot down last week, more than likely by an illegal weapon. Still, as we speak, we don't even have a full Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Director, in fact Congress hasn't confirmed one in years. In Newtown, Connecticut the world witnessed the slaying of 26 elementary school children. A young man who was suffering from mental illness went in and sprayed up classrooms with a war weapon AR-15 which is perfectly legal to buy. Currently, legislators are balking and vacillating over legislation that seem so common sense. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told ABC news he was not sure if he would support an assault weapons ban. The struggle continues.

ABC News Reports

I don't know, she [Dianne Feinstein] knows I haven't read her amendment," Reid said Sunday.

Is it wrong for someone to have the right to share retirement and medical benefits? Is it wrong for someone to live in this society and receive equal justice under the law? No, but it's wrong for government to dictate who you can love and who you can not. Is it wrong for government to step over religious institutions that say they recognize same sex marriage? Defense Of Marriage Act, quite simply, does that. Gay or straight, we should allow those who pay taxes to choose freely their sexual preference and a lifestyle that does not hurt or impede on the freedoms of others. Supporters of DOMA sound close to those who sought to outlaw those who wanted to enter into Interracial marriages. It's time for this country to say we are done with DOMA. The struggle continues.

Click here
to check out last year's job statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor throughout last year some say they are getting better. Although, the overall numbers are headed in the right direction, the Department of Labor consistently shows that those same statistics show little to no movement for African Americans. When President Obama and Congressman John Conyers introduced two different jobs bill last year, and congress ignored them both. The struggle continues.

This year we celebrate the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and 50 years since The Great March on Washington. We remember those who changed the course of history for their tenacity, and courage to stand up against adversity. They stood up for what they believed in. They might not have had a college education, they might not have had big bank accounts, they didn't have email, cell phones, or social network skills, but they had the will to use their time, talent, and their selves to be apart of changing the direction of a country that was steeped in something that seem so normal but so many new was so wrong. So where do you fit in? We will commemorate marches this year. We will continue to celebrate the first African American President. However, we should also all take time to remember advances that were made by those of the past. They should cause us to question our selves. What will we leave for those who will come behind us? Will we leave them stronger, wiser and better?

The struggle continues, but to really appreciate the dedication of those of old, we must continue the struggle. We never would have made it without Rosa Parks and we will not make it without you. Join us at the National Action Network Annual Convention in New York Click here to register

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