This year of cataclysm, this year of pandemic, this year of change has moved into a new phase of social upheaval due to the murder of George Floyd. One of the most horrendous incidents ever caught on video has opened old wounds for black Americans, spurring outrage and protests around the world.
The narrow view that the color of one’s skin makes them dangerous or worthy of contempt or anything but equal remains a hurdle that you would think is insurmountable. Such an opinion has no place in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” True freedom has not been achieved and it takes much more courage from those who need to grant it to grant it without reservation.
No matter our race, we are all children of God and brothers and sisters in the family of humanity. This is self-evident. We don’t have to look far to see it shining crystal-clear.
Darren Lee, Jr.
Taking part in one of the many protests since Floyd’s death, Lee is a daycare business owner in Louisville. It was the first time he had ever joined a protest. When it turned violent with shots being fired, he decided it was time for him to head home. On his way out, he noticed one policeman separated from his team.
The white officer was walking along the street, trying to get to his squad car. A group of black protesters started closing in on him as they were shouting questions at him about why there is so much police brutality and harassment. Lee saw one man standing between the crowd and the policeman, so Lee joined him. They, along with a few other African-American men and one white man, joined arms and formed a wall to protect the policeman.
The angry crowd demanded to know why they would protect him. Fortunately, the verbal rage didn’t escalate into physical violence and the officer was able to rejoin his team. He thanked Lee and the human chain.
Lee told a television reporter, “I think he learned at that point that not all protesters or not all black people are bad people. We don’t all have hate for the police. We just want to see change. We just want to see justice.”
In 2018, then 22 year-old Gassama pulled off a rescue that resulted in him being dubbed Spiderman. It happened in Paris when a small boy was seen dangling from a fourth floor balcony railing. Gassama heard the reactions of people below from a nearby restaurant. He immediately climbed from balcony to balcony up all four stories in less than a minute and nimbly pulled the child to safety. It was an act of heroism that no other person there probably even considered.
Gassama was a migrant from Mali in West Africa. His act of selfless courage was caught on video and went viral. He was invited to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, was granted French citizenship and was given a job as a firefighter.
“I did not really think, I started climbing directly,” he told Macron. “As I was climbing up, I felt more and more confident.” What an inspiration this gentleman is!
Ms. Keys’ musical accomplishments sing for themselves and they are remarkable. Not as well-known is her philanthropy. Her activism for various causes demonstrates her value to the world that transcends her art and her generosity.
She helped create Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit that provides help for families with HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. She has worked to fight poverty, to further education and women’s rights. She has joined in the movement against systemic racism, participating in a video released in 2016 called, “23 Ways You Could Be Killed if You are a Black Man in America.”
At the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, she said, “We want the best for all Americans. No hate, no bigotry, no Muslim registry. We value education, health care, equality.” She added that she cares about women’s equal pay, war, women’s rights, and environmental protection.
I apologize for the familiarity, but I just feel I have to refer to her as Oprah. We feel as though we know her. She is so accessible. One of the most caring people on the planet, she is one of the greatest philanthropists. Her love of the arts, her spirituality and her interest in helping people make her one of the most special people of her generation.
Oprah has dedicated herself to improving education and helping women as well as children all around the world. She has founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She has helped over 5,000 students get college scholarships and made millions of dollars of donations to a variety of charitable organizations.
I Could Go On and On…
I have to give honorable mention to several more people I can hardly stand leaving off the above list. There’s Muhammad Ali, whose wide-ranging actions for humanity are legendary. Martin Luther King would be on the Mt. Rushmore of men who have elevated this human race in the name of love and justice. Medgar Evers stood tall in Mississippi and cried out for equality. He declared, “As long as God gives me strength to work and try to make things real for my children, I’m going to work for it–even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.” He was assassinated in Mississippi. Leah Chase was a chef who owned a restaurant called Dooky Chase in New Orleans. She was known for bringing people together, people of all races in a time and place when it was considered against the law. King, Thurgood Marshall and others gathered there. She was so highly regarded that the authorities never shut her down or raided her restaurant.
These examples are just a few of the illustrious brothers and sisters in a galaxy of stars. Let’s dedicate ourselves now and forever to not just tolerate our brothers and sisters, not just co-exist with them, but to appreciate them and love them. We are part of a family of beings on earth and across the universe. May we celebrate all of us that make up this whole which is greater than any one individual or race.