Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality

By Jeannine Swift | Go to book overview

the rivers from their pollution because they will know that if you do not redeem the rivers, you are killing your great-grand children. So I expect that that is where I am going from here, I am going to look for folks who are really serious about giving themselves to serious work. So when Harris Wofford asked what America would be like if we had twenty- five more years of King changing, moving; if we had had twenty-five more years of Malcolm changing, developing, if we had had twenty-five more years of Ruby Doris Smith changing, moving; when he asked that, I said, "Well, that's really not the main question, the main question is an answer." Look around you, there are folks here who have got lots more than twenty-five years to develop. I see you, some of you have thirty years, some of you have forty years, some of you have fifty years, some of you have even more years than I do, maybe sixty years, to grow and to change. I see Jonathan, I see Leslie, I see Christopher, I see Christine, I see Michelle, I see Claudia, I see all of Frank's young folks, and what I know is that these folks know how much they have been loved and cared for. I see you, I know you have a long time to go, and I am for you; that is where I go from here. I go with you, and now I realize and I think, we realize that a conference like this opens up the options to us.

Where do we go from here? No, Martin, not just chaos or community; I think we have got three options when we are serious and honest with each other about where we go from this kind of experience. We can go right on to where America seems to be wanting to go and that is to social chaos where nobody is responsible for anybody else, sometimes even in the same household. That is one option, social chaos. A second option that Martin didn't talk about but which he knew about is the option of paranoid individualism and personal isolationism whether hiding in religion; hiding in money; hiding in sex; or hiding in drugs; but essentially hiding from everybody else and living a life only for ourselves. Social chaos or personal chaos; committing social suicide or personal suicide. But I think there is always the third option: the option of the compassionate community: that is the hard option. That is the option that a lot of people believe is unrealistic. Well, King said that if that does not become our reality, we are all going to be burning up soon.

Where do we go? Some of us, maybe more than I realize, at least some of us, are going to give our lives and our skills and our resources of every kind to continue the struggle that made it possible for us to be here. Some of us are going to carry on the tradition that our foreparents and other folks' foreparents began for us. Some of us are going to go on trying to reshape the modern black struggle for freedom and justice, for equality and transformation. And some of us have already discovered it: that it is a struggle that we can gladly share with all others who are truly committed to freedom, to justice, to equality, to transformation.

Where do we go from here? To create a new reality, of course, to create a new reality based on a new vision, based on a new people that is made up of many peoples, to struggle for a new society starting with me, you, me. Here we come, Malcolm; here we come, Martin. Open the way, Ruby Doris, Ella Baker, we are on your path. That's where we go from here.


NOTES
1.
Langston Hughes, "Let America Be America Again," lines 62-64, in America in Poetry, ed. Charles Sullivan ( New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1988), 185.
2.
Ibid, lines 65-69.
3.
Langston Hughes, "Freedom's Plow," lines 9-10, in HughesLangston

-144-

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Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: A Tale of Two and One-Half Decades 3
  • Notes 11
  • 2: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. 13
  • 3: Rediscovering Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement 19
  • Conclusion 26
  • Notes 26
  • 4: The Civil Rights Movement: Upheaval and Organization 29
  • Conclusion 39
  • Notes 40
  • 5: Blacks and the New South: Civil Rights in the Eighties 43
  • Introduction 43
  • Conclusion 49
  • Notes 50
  • 6: Improving the Plight of Black, Inner-City Youths: Whose Responsibility? 53
  • Notes 65
  • 7: Racial Attitudes of Black and White Adolescents Before and After Desegregation 69
  • Conclusion 73
  • Notes 74
  • 8: The Ills of Integration: A Black Perspective 77
  • Introduction 77
  • Notes 84
  • 9: A Dream Deferred for Quality Education: Civil Rights Legislation and De Facto Segregation in the Cincinnati Schools, 1954-1986 87
  • Notes 91
  • 10: The Housing Conditions of Black Americans: 1960s-1980s 93
  • Conclusion 98
  • Notes 105
  • 11: The Collapse of the Employment Policy Agenda: 1964-1981 107
  • Introduction 107
  • Conclusion 120
  • Notes 121
  • 12: Black Workers at Risk: Jobs for Life or Death 125
  • Conclusion 131
  • Notes 133
  • 13: "Where Do We Go from Here" 137
  • Notes 144
  • Index 147
  • About the Editor and the Contributors 153
  • Hofstra University's Cultural and Intercultural Studies Coordinating Editor, Alexej Ugrinsky 157
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