Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement

By Vincent Harding | Go to book overview

3
More Power Than We Know

Recollecting the Young Warriors

Only the passage of time, the cultivation of creative reflection, and much persistent, democratic experimentation of our own will help us to understand the remarkable gifts and messages that have been made available to the citizens of our nation through the surging pro-democratic struggles that shook the globe and closed the decade of the 1980s. When the images began to pile up and to crowd our minds, entering, expanding, from Soweto to Tiananmen Square, to Leipzig and Prague, they were not always easy to manage. But one thing was clear: Young people were everywhere. And in every setting where they challenged the possessors of conventional power their faces and voices seemed filled with a combination of innocence, wisdom, great courage, and heart-piercing vulnerability.

Even as we watched, some of them were killed for their commitment to democracy. Others were beaten down into the streets or hauled away to meet their torturers. In other streets, at other borders, young men and women, often inspired by the Chinese martyrs, continued marching, standing, contending, leading the lines of democracy's nonviolent armies. We saw them climbing the Berlin Wall, organizing a national general strike in Czechoslovakia in nine days, providing the impetus and inspiration for so much of the rising tides of change in South Africa. Young people, high school and college age, sometimes younger or older.

-56-

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