Repeating History… Why is America Afraid?

America…Early 1800’s

Thousands of African-Americans (I use this term lightly) were shipped overseas to mainly southern parts of America in the 1800’s. Once the practice of slavery ended, many of these people migrated north (Great Migration 1910) in search of better opportunities. Northern whites were more accepting of blacks yet, they began to feel intimidated by the millions of them moving into their territory. They began to block housing and refusing those who wished to take residence in predominately white neighborhoods and schools. Blacks were among some of the hardest working people during this time, they were not set out to make trouble but, merely survive as “free” persons in the United States of America.

I do not understand. While black people were enslaved and indebted to masters, they were beloved cooks, nannies, shoe shiners, horse tamers, slave whippers, entertainers, child breeders and servants. Once these people obtained their so called freedom, leaving their white masters and plantations, they were considered a threat to society.

Fast Forward to Mid 1900’s

If you were not on the receiving end of direct physical abuse as a result of participating in sit-ins, marches, boycotts, and attempts to segregate, you saw the brutal reality of it on TV or by listening to it on the radio. I would have imagined many blacks lived in constant fear for their lives and that of their children’s.

Martin Luther King’s presence dominated the civil rights movement by way of peaceful measures. He encouraged nonviolence, even when he was on the receiving end of it. His oratory skills were impeccable and helped moved a nation. So why was he hunted and gunned down like animal prey? Somebody somewhere did not agree with his principles. Somebody, somewhere, wasn’t amused with integrating schools, churches, restaurants, movie theaters, or retail stores. Somebody, somewhere felt threatened by integration but, why? This question still rings in my head today. What is America and its founders so afraid of?

I speak in present tense because America IS still afraid. There is an undisputed and unspoken line of segregation that still exists among races. If Martin Luther King were alive today, I do not believe he would be pleased, I believe he would still be fighting for the civil liberties of minorities in this nation. Where are the present day Martins, Malcolm’s, Marcus’, and Huey’s? Where are the future leaders fighting for justice?

I do not understand. This is a country that prides itself on liberty and justice for all. This is a country whose principle belief is equality among all men. This is a country whose available resources are the reason so many risk their lives to cross border lines. Why is this country still an unequal place to live?

In the midst of prayer breakfasts, memorial visits, and parades I urge you to think beyond festivities and ask yourself, are the disparities among minorities in 2013 different from those during the civil rights movement? How can you aid in creating change?

I’ll leave you with a quote that still holds relevance today.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people”.  Martin Luther King Jr

Najla Speaks

@i_am_najla on Twitter

Email me at



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