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The Struggle Continues

Dec 2nd, 2001 by James Breedlove | 0

Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, the erstwhile leader of the NAACP, was the keynote speaker at the C.A.W. Clark Legal Clinic’s twelfth anniversary luncheon last Saturday.

 

The legal clinic was organized in 1989 as a service to persons with limited access to legal representation.  Services are free and special attention is given to senior citizens.  The sponsors of the clinic are the Dallas Chapter of the National Association of Bench and Bar Spouses, the J.L. Turner Legal society and Good Street Baptist Church.

 

Dr. Hooks has devoted most of his life to transforming social taboos that have kept blacks locked in the straight jacket of discrimination, segregation, and racism.  The venerable 75 year old civil rights veteran, while a little slower in his gait, is still one of the most gifted orators of our time.  He held the audience of some 300 spellbound with his skillful use of metaphors, mixed-metaphors and similes while painting a dynamic picture that captured the black struggle in America from its origin to the present day.

 

It was an inspired message, rooted in truth; with many of the trials and tribulations taken from his five decades of personal experience in the trenches.

 

The black struggle in America started in 1619 when 20 black men were disembarked at Jamestown, Virginia.  The concept of the indentured servant was quickly modified to exclude blacks and for the next 200 years slavery was the norm. 

 

He cautioned that we should not embrace a gospel of hatred.  Many people are prone to place the entire blame for the plight of blacks on the white race.   However, there are persons of color who are willing to set the race back just as the KKK did after reconstruction.  He condemned the transformation of many blacks such as Clarence Thomas and Ward Connolly (both affirmative action recipients) who after climbing the ladder of success forgot who they are and where they have come from.

 

Dr. Hooks acknowledged that blacks have made significant progress since the dark days following reconstruction.   We have made great strides in electing congressmen, senators, mayors, and councilmen.  We have representation as corporate board members, judges, directors and other positions of prominence.  But the numbers are misleading.  We are still inadequately represented in these positions and cannot be satisfied or complacent.  We are on the train but we have not arrived.

 

Affirmative action is not a vehicle by which a tree cutter is made into a surgeon. This type of reasoning is usually the focus of affirmative action debates.  It is the wrong characterization.  Affirmative action is simply a way to level the playing field and neutralize the good ole boy network.

 

He spoke to the lack of understanding that many of the younger generation have about the struggle.  As the old warriors pass on there is the notion that all is well.  He warned that you can’t truly appreciate what it means to have what it is you have never been denied.  

 

We are where we are because somebody paid a price—somebody suffered.  Somebody looked up in the darkest hour of our suffering and cried out.   Somebody had the faith and courage to believe if they kept on walking, if they kept on marching, one day their sons and daughters would sit on top of the mountain.

 

And too often after we get there with all our intelligence we are too indifferent to recognize that we owe a great debt to those that went before and sacrificed so that we might have. 

 

Where are we headed?  This question presents itself with increasing urgency as we consider the subject of race relations in America.  Dr. Hooks left a challenge for us.  Even though we live in a great city—it can be greater.  Envision it being what never has been but yet must be.  That city in a land where all men can be free.  Keep your eye on the prize; know where you are trying to go. 

 

He closed with the reminder that we are somebody, not because of what we have accomplished or from whence we have come, but because each of us is a child of the living God.  We were created in HIS image and we should strive to discover the purpose that God has for our lives.  This is the way for finding our rightful place as a warrior in the continuing black struggle.

 

James W. Breedlove

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: www.truthclinic.com

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