Over the past week, we have heard several quotes from different leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. One of the quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"A riot is the language of the unheard."
When using and or seeing this quote, many are unaware of the speech from which is was taken titled The Other America. In this speech, he talked about the vast differences between the privilege of living in 'white America' and the reality that the majority of African Americans faced. A privilege that still exist more than 50 years after Dr. King gave this speech in 1967.
There have been many movements, protest and calls for action since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s/60s. I cannot take away from or deny their impact on our world today. The work that MLK, Malcolm X, and so many other figures in the movement put forth allowed them to see us. It put eyes on the issues that the African Americans faced. When those who hold finally saw us, there was a movement towards growth and change.
I think now in 2020 America is starting to hear us. She is starting to listen to what we have to say. Listening requires more than observing and seeing a situation from your own point of view. Listening comes with an expectation if response. An expectation that although you may not agree, there is some level of understanding.
I don't know if the switch between seeing and listening happened because COVID-19 forced the world stand still, because of the power of social media or because we are in an election year here in the States but there has been an undeniable shift in the atmosphere. For the first time in history, there have protest documented in all 50 states several US territories, as well as 50 international protest around the world in response to the murder of George Floyd.
We know that this movement did not start with Mr. Floyd but to witnessing his brutal murder may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Just like there was Claudette Colvin before Rosa Parks, there is a long list of people before George Floyd. His death did not spark the fire but it did cause the explosion.
Since his death several bills have introduced on the federal level that are suppose to make change. Many states have passed or are working to pass legislation to reform their police departments. Do I think these new laws are going to make everything better? No but it's another step in the right direction.
They saw is in the 1960, they are finally hearing us today. Sometime in the future they feel us.