What Will Your Name Stand For?

By Kelly Kuhn, Columnist

I was sitting in my living room playing a video game on my iPad. In the background, I heard the rumbling of the news on the television. Everything sounded like white noise until I heard the words “Brown vs. The Board of Education.” My ears perked up and I believe I did the dog head tilt. I thought to myself, “What in the word is happening now? Are they trying to undo that law now?” It turns out; the news was reporting that the namesake of the Supreme Court Case, Linda Brown, had died.

I guess I had not given it much thought, but there was a person behind the name. There were actually five families involved in the case. “Dozens of parents signed on as plaintiffs, including Topeka, Kansas, resident Oliver Brown, a welder and World War II veteran who served as an assistant pastor at his local church. When the Supreme Court consolidated the cases in 1952, Brown’s name appeared in the title. This was done on purpose, a Supreme Court justice later explained, ‘so that the whole question would not smack of being a purely southern one.’” However, the case could have easily been called Carper, Emanuel, Henderson, or Todd vs. The Board of Education.

All of a sudden, the news flashed a picture of young girl who could not be more than 12, leading the fight to end segregation public schools. The civil rights movement did not just start in the 1950’s. It has been going on for centuries and all over the world. One of the early leaders of the U.S. civil rights movement was gone.

However, some people brought it upon themselves to attempt to undo the hard work these civil rights activists have done. The Unite the Right rally, also known as the Charlottesville rally, was a far-right rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, from August 11 to 12, 2017. Its stated goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Another organizer, Nathan Damigo, said the rally intended to unify the white nationalist movement in the United States. Protesters included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and various militias. Some of the marchers chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, carried semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, Confederate battle flags, and anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic banners. The rally occurred amidst the backdrop of controversy generated by the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the country in response to the Charleston church shooting in 2015. The event turned violent after protesters clashed with counter-protesters, leaving one dead and more than 30 injured.

Colin Kaepernick did the unspeakable according to our current president and asked Americans to use critical thinking to support Black Lives Matter. Instead of standing for the National Anthem, the NFL quarterback started kneeling. Many other teams and members started to support the effort as the President tweeted against the right of peaceful protest and freedom of speech.  

On February 14, 2018, Valentines Day, 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. The first response from the government was to offer their thoughts and prayers.  When the students stood up and told Congress to keep their thoughts and prayers, they wanted the government to do their jobs and fix gun violence through legislation. Congress and the President wanted to equipment teachers with guns. The students have not given up on their quest. We will have to see how this story plays out.

 

How did America go from being a nation of change to a nation of suppression? The right to vote in a fair election is being limited with gerrymandering. A president who believes in freedom of speech as long as the speech is something his party agrees with. And a congress, which seems to have forgotten the evils of past racism, segregation, hate, and murder.  

How many of our fellow Americans, African American – Muslim American – Chinese American – Latin American, brothers and sisters have to continue to live in fear? In fear of their freedom, lives, and happiness. It is time to take a page out of Brown’s playbook and stand for what is right, acceptance and equality for everyone no matter race, gender, or sexual orientation. Will American students let the fight for equality die with the following names Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Now we add Linda Brown to the list. Stand up and let your voices be heard before it it too late.

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