Who are we? We should have answered this question a long time ago. Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave – for some. My ancestors are from Africa.
Africa was depicted to me as a dark continent with natives, cannibals, Tarzan (king of the jungle), and uncivilized inhabitants not considered to be totally human. Yet, others described Africa as the cradle of life and civilization, and the epicenter of many religions being practiced in the world today. The continent is the birthplace of Jesus and not the geopolitical place called the Middle East.
America claims to open its borders to people who are being abused and persecuted in their native lands. Until recently, America asserted itself as being one of the most tolerant and welcoming places on the earth – a virtual melting pot for all aspects of human existence. Reading the history of America and my people, I cannot say that I found the accounts to be very encouraging. American history tells me that my people have been in this country long before many other people, who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy this country’s freedoms and opportunities unabated.
My ancestors were here when the Revolutionary War was fought, when the Civil War was fought, when WWI was fought, when WWII was fought, and all engagements this nation has fought, both foreign and domestic. My people have fought and died under the flag of this nation, however, many of the people of this nation have systematically suppressed our freedoms, opportunities, ownership, family relationships and citizenship. My people were kept in slavery, and social and economic bondage as many good-hearted Americans looked on in horror at the brutal actions of other citizens. The historical contributions and world-changing actions of my people were omitted from America’s history.
For a nation that has told the world that the right of citizens to vote is at the heart of our democracy, our governments at the National and State level are again establishing policies to hinder or prevent its citizens from freely expressing their right to vote. Furthermore, many citizens have convinced themselves that they should arm themselves, and support building a wall along our southern border. One would think that by now everyone should understand that carrying a firearm will not provide citizenry protection, and building a wall on a country’s borders like China and Germany tried, will never be functional. No weapon can destroy fear and hatred in mankind’s heart, nor will a wall prevent our nation from sharing its freedoms, and opportunities with other people.
So, who will we blame this time for our inhumanity? How about Manifest Destiny, Reconstructionist, Carpet Baggers, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow Laws, the Third Reich, the Russians, Conservatives, Liberals, Socialists, the Black Panther Party, Freedom Riders, Communists, Pro-Choice people, Anti-Abortionists, Big Government, Republicans, Democrats, Dreamers, Birthers, Immigrants, Migrants, Social Media, the Mentally Ill, the Ukrainians, Supreme Court Judges, Politicians, and so the list goes on and on.
When are we going to learn how to accept each other without unreasonable conditions? Oh yeah, don’t forget to send in your census data and vote.
John E. Cunningham is a retired educator from the Alton School District. He resides in Edwardsville, IL with his wife Carmen. He has been a member and officer of the Edwardsville Branch #3014 of the NAACP since the early nineties. He has been President of the Branch since 2016.
The Edwardsville NAACP has a long history of working together with civic leaders, community members, businesses, and judiciaries to make our beautiful city more equitable for all. We continue to have great success in accomplishing our goals, and we invite all to join us in this great work!
The Edwardsville NAACP Educational Grant is awarded to deserving graduating Edwardsville High School Seniors. Application are being accepted NOW!!!!
Our organization is only as good as our members. Luckily, we have the best people in the world working with us to help succeed.
Creating a better world can’t be done from the sidelines. Take action, and help our city improve! Raise your voice for change.
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination