We believe all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings . because of the color of their skin. The reasons are deeply imbedded in history and tradition and the nature of man. We can understand – without rancor or hatred – how this happened, but it cannot continue. Our constitution forbids it. The principles of our freedom forbid it. Morality forbids it. And [now] the law forbids it.
Lyndon B Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973)
Or does it…? In the sixties, I marched in the streets of New Brunswick, New Jersey on the campus of Rutgers University where I was a student. I marched for equality on the banks of the Old Raritan River. One of 34 Black students in a freshman class of over two thousand. I marched because no matter how much education I had or how intelligent I was, no matter what my SAT scores were, I was still a slave in America because I am Black.
Today, sixty years later, Black people in America are still marching. Marching to have the same freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution to everyone except us. Marching to not be shot, killed, murdered or harassed by police or “do right citizens” on the streets where we live, or in our own homes simply because we have a different hue to our skin.
Today marks the 156th year since the end of slavery in America, but until I can walk down any street in America without having to look over my shoulder at the police car following me, or shop without having a store employee follow me around the store, or cash a check without having a bank teller take my check into the back room for closer examination, or be able to play as a child with a toy gun without being shot and killed, or be able to go jogging in my own neighborhood without being torn in half by a white man with a shot gun, or be able to sleep in my own home safely, without someone under the name of law enforcement breaking in, unannounced and shooting me, until I can receive equality under the law, backed up by a fair, unbiased judicial system, in the eyes of America, I am still treated as a slave. I am still *a person held in servitude as the chattel of another.
**June 19, 2021. Now a Federal Holiday, 156 years late.