Friday, February 27, 2015

Published 8:00 AM by with 0 comment


I was born in 1969, growing up in the 70's and 80's, my generation fell into a unique pocket in history, where we saw the end of one period in history and the advent of another. Many would say that we were the direct beneficiaries of the civil rights movement. Told that we could do anything that want, go anywhere we want and be anyone we wanted to's no surprise that "we" have bucked more traditions, trounced out new trails and decried brand new anthems of independence and freedom. We have more access than ever before and greater opportunities. That is not to say we are blind to the issue that remain, but our  non-conformist ways have left folks asking, "what happened?" "With the continued assassination of black males where is our Martin Luther King, Jr.?"  "As congress attempts to turn back the clock on policies and law that unequally target communities of color, who will speak for us?"

The film SELMA gave us a peek behind the curtain into some of what we know happened during the protracted campaign to gain equal rights for minority citizens in America.  While no singular film or story will ever be able to capture the totality of the efforts, we saw in the film some important highlights leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In addition to learning about our rich, historical past, the film also yields  immensely powerful lessons for a generation looking for a leader.


In the film, we saw people of various cultures and walks of life come together on one accord. They were not all black, nor white, young nor old, they were a diversified cross-section of our society. That so many people from so many different walks of life could see the importance of what was happening is incredible. However, as I watched, I couldn't help but marvel at how despite the number of  non-blacks saw the need for change,  there were just throngs of others who were just decidedly hostile and angry at the notion of equal rights. Surely, even if you cannot see the side of another HUE-MAN you should be able to at least see that of your own brother and sister.  Shouldn't that spark something? Even today, I marvel at how people, who have considerably less than others and are essentially in the same boat as their darker or differently hued neighbors, vote to support efforts that keep them down as well, all in the name of politics and pride. Hate, intolerance, and even indifference will always be the shortcoming of any society that fails to SEE or acknowledge their fellow man.  We need leaders that are able to recognize the need to see beyond the color of our skin, challenge limits and work across borders and aisles.


While there were many important groups and organizations working to equalize the playing field for people of color, it wasn't until everyone understood and saw the need for a collective act, that folks started paying real attention. It's one thing to be on the radar, but it's another to be the target.  The clear and deliberate acts, made the president, the governor and everybody else pay attention. When we operate from different song sheets, our message gets diluted. Even if our agendas are not exactly the same, are we not stronger together? What can we agree upon and how can we work on those things together. Perhaps we can knock out everyone's list of needs if we worked together better and identified specifically and clearly what we need. Leaders worth their weight in salt or gold will work to identify a universal agenda that serves all and prioritizes the greatest needs. When we all start playing from the song sheet, its an amazing sound that cannot be ignored.


Politics makes strange bedfellows. The ability to operate at all levels, amongst all types should not be considered a weakness or character flaw. The world is a dynamic and diverse place, to be comfortable in it, we must embrace other cultures, different schools of thought and ideologies, if only to understand ours better. The ability to navigate the halls of the White House and the pool hall is an asset. To have the ear of influencers and decision-makers and be respected for a unique, position is truly the sign of successful leadership.

Let's not let it be another 50 Years...

Peace, Joy & Love,
Michelle H.


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