Record editorial: 50 years after civil rights era, we are still a nation confronting its sins
Outrage over the brutal killing of a black man. Protests, some turning violent, spilling onto the streets of cities from coast to coast. Americans in mourning, left to grapple with the sins of their nation’s past and present.
It was 1968 in America, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at a Memphis hotel.
It is 2020 in America, after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Here we find ourselves once more, a nation again forced to take stock. To confront our failures and consider how much closer we are, after all, to fulfilling the most sacred of the ideals spelled out in the country’s founding documents: that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.
The answer is devastating and obvious: Not close enough. Not nearly close enough.
This question, then, follows: How do we get there, to a society in which parents of color don’t have to explain to their children how to behave if a police officer stops them — don’t resist, be polite and, for the love of God, don’t run — for fear that, one day, they won’t return home? One in which a dark skin tone is no impediment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One in which the scourge of racism no longer stains the fabric of our nation.
In Park City, it was students, leaders of today and tomorrow, who tried to provide an answer. They organized a rally Monday at Dozier Field, demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. In front of a peaceful crowd of a few hundred, the students spoke of the need for justice and peace and the beginning of a new era.
One call to action from the students, in particular, resonated: It is not enough for people with privilege — and that’s the majority of Parkites — to be anti-racism.
Those with a voice must stand up and use it, shouting down prejudice and bigotry in all forms, no matter if it’s as blatant as torch-bearing white nationalists chanting in the streets or the unjustified killings of black people by Americans who swore an oath to protect and serve, or if it comes in a more insidious package, like efforts to suppress the minority vote or criminal laws that result in our prisons being filled with a disproportionate percentage of people of color.
More than a half-century after the heroes of the civil rights movement marched on Washington and in Selma, their fight remains unfinished, the soul of our nation still teetering in the balance.
It is the tragedy of our time, and it demands a response from every American with good in their hearts. Lest our children, and our children’s children, be left to wage the same battle, one we should have won long ago.
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