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Wake Up Macon!

March 2007



Did Our Civil Rights Predecessors Fight For Nothing? 



By James Wright



As we celebrated Black History Month in February, we looked at the past, the present, and the future.  We looked at the achievements of African Americans, achievements that were beneficial to society, and we celebrated and gave thanks to those who sacrificed to better the position of African Americans today.


Seamstress by day, and civil rights activist by day and night, Rosa Parks is probably the most famous civil rights activist in our nation’s history.  On December 1, 1955, she refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s demand that she give up her seat to a white man, resulting in her arrest and trial for civil disobedience.  This one action triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in United States history.  This launched one of the young black organizers of the boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. to the forefront of the civil rights movement.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it a crime for any public establishment to refuse accommodations to anyone based on race, sex, religion, or national origin.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed the requirement that would-be voters take a literacy test to qualify to register to vote, thereby making it possible for any adult to register to vote.


Medgar Evars, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and Emmett Till are just a few of those that paid the ultimate price by losing their lives in this battle.


Our civil rights leaders of the past two generations paid a heavy price and laid the foundation for where African Americans are today.  As a result of their sacrifices, blacks have made a tremendous amount of headway.  But somewhere along the way, we forgot about the past.  We stopped moving forward and began standing still.


African Americans lag behind other races in education.  Asians, Middle Easterners, and others from across the ocean come to America to seek higher education.  They take advantage of college grants and loans, becoming doctors, lawyers, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, while our black youth either sits around and does nothing or works minimum wage fast food jobs or sells drugs for a living.  Other countries also take advantage of the Civil Rights Acts, despite the fact that these acts were passed primarily to help African Americans.


There is a faction of the black community in which the family has experienced complete breakdown.  Single mothers and often grandparents, are raising this generation while young black men languish on the streets, in jails, and in the prison system.


African Americans need to look in the mirror and ask “What am I doing to help all people, to promote equality for everyone?  When Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I have a dream..,” he raised the bar for all Americans to be measured by.  African Americans must start doing for themselves, rather than waiting for others to do for them.


So I say to you: Wake up Macon!  We’re still at the back of the bus!



If you would like to comment or express your views on this, or any other Wake Up Macon editorial, please email me at


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