By BECKY ANDREWS
The past symbolizes a simpler time in America. A time when children could walk to school without fear of being taken by a stranger and a time before the heated controversy of the Vietnam War tore the fabric of the American dream. But for some, the past denotes oppression and the emergence of “A Dream” that forced citizens to wake up and realize that in order to move forward in America, change would have to occur. Change did come more than 40 years after the Civil Rights Movement (1955- 1968) when President Barrack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
This issue as we ring in the New Year we dedicate Living in the Past to Black History Month.
Wilson County resident Annette Stafford witnessed the inauguration of President Barrack Obama last January. The event was a family affair. Annette was joined by her mother, Louvenia Dixon, daughter, Ranesa Stafford-Shipman and granddaughter, Hailey Stafford. The four generations of strong women stood in the freezing temperatures among a crowd of more than one million spectators. Annette says,
“It was so, so cold but so, so worth it. The energy of the crowd was so positive and I am so blessed to have been a witness to history and to have been a part of it with my family.”
For someone who can recall a time when nonviolent sit-ins and civil disobedience was the norm, this day was worth waiting for and gives hope and new possibilities for all people of color.
“I look at my granddaughter and tell her, ‘now you know you can do anything. Nothing is holding you back anymore.’ That’s a wonderful feeling.” Annette adds.
Annette’s granddaughter, Hailey, has to read history books in order to better understand the reality her grandmother and great grandmother lived. Brown vs. Board of Education may not ever have the same meaning to the youngster as it does Annette and Louvenia. But she will be able to share with her children and her children’s children how she was part of American History that saw “The Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King become a reality for the people.
So here we are in 2009. Decades after Civil Rights Activists like, W. E. B. Dubois, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and Rosa Parks paved the way to help make sure all people were treated equal, their work seems to be paying off in a big way with the election of the first African American President. While some feel the United States is still a long way from total equality, there’s no doubt we are light years ahead of the way things were. At Wilson Living we hope that remembering the past can teach us valuable lessons about living proudly and equally in the present.