June 9, 2020 9:35:14 AM
Over the past two weeks, protests and marches demanding racial justice have swept the country. In small towns, large cities and everything in between, consciences have been stirred and hope renewed.
These gatherings represent an important step in helping our nation form "a more perfect union," mentioned in the preamble of our Constitution. They have been a powerful symbol of America's reawakened awareness of the work yet to be done and a sobering message to the authorities of their responsibility to make sure real changes are made.
Soon, the marches and protests will end and an essential question will emerge: Now what?
Symbolism and messages only go so far. If there is to be the real changes these protests call for, the focus must shift from awareness to action.
For many of us, the answer to that question appears vague.
We've made our signs, joined in the marches, spoken out on social media.
But isn't there something more to be done, someway of "putting some verbs in our sentences," as Dr. Phil once observed?
Most of us lack the power or forum as individuals to make the kind of profound changes the moment requires. Our individual efforts may seem small, in fact. But they are not without meaning. When each of us do our part as individuals we join our efforts with the masses of others who are also committed in their own small way. That's how mountains are moved.
We encourage you to look for groups of like-minded citizens, organizations such as our local NAACP chapters and civic and church groups devoted to the cause. Online groups, such as Starkville Stand Up, are another way to lend your voice to those of others.
One of the best ways we can join the fight for justice is to be better citizens.
That means participating in our local government by attending council, aldermen and supervisors meetings, which will raise your awareness and provide an opportunity to share your views and suggestions. Tonight, Columbus will hold a live-stream Town Hall addressing policing and the Ricky Ball case. That's a great opportunity to move beyond the marches.
Register to vote and vote in every election. Demand to know candidates' views on this subject, then hold them accountable.
And finally, reach out to our friends and neighbors, offer encouragement and support.
White citizens, who outnumber black citizens by an 8-to-1 ratio, have a special obligation.
It was once said that war is a rich man's game but a poor man's fight.
For far too long, black citizens have, for the most part, fought alone.
If we are to fulfill the promise of our Constitution, both the war and the fight must be shared alike, regardless of race.
That's the next step.
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