OpEd Watkins

By Hollis Watkins
Special to the Afro

(The Afro)—Racism is still alive and well in Mississippi and throughout this country just as it was in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. This clearly suggests there is much work to be done. When we look at those in control of things in this country, we see, for the most part, things are in the hands of the same few along with their descendants, carrying out the same policies executed in different ways.

For us to make sure that justice prevails in this country and that we have a system of fair dealings with one another, there is much unfinished business that we have to attend because we are a long way from having such a system.

Freedom 50 provides the opportunity to teach others how we mobilize and organize.

Freedom 50 shares 50 years of practical experience with today’s youth. This will help young people avoid some of the mistakes veterans made because they lacked the foundation available today. Too often, we don’t know the history of our past and because of that we lack understanding of where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. This makes it difficult to talk about where we need to go and to establish a meaningful program of work that gets us there. Freedom 50 helps us to continue this work.

When we look at human rights today, we see that humans are not being treated like humans but like animals. A human rights movement is desperately needed because when people are convinced to not see themselves first as humans, they see themselves consciously and subconsciously as something else. We need a human rights movement to re-instill the dignity and pride we once had in ourselves and in one another. That pride creates brings people together to build a movement that will go further into the future that we can ever imagine.

Changing systems instead of looking at isolated issues is what is going to bring about this movement. We must build a solid foundation on the grassroots level in the local communities, spreading out in states and the country and eventually across the world, that will bring social justice issues like education, voting rights, workers’ rights, and healthcare to the forefront, establishing them as basic constitutional rights.

That’s why it is so important that we have members of the community come to the table during the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference June 25-29 at Tougaloo College, so that we can engage in these conversations, establish strategies that get us to where we need to be, and ensure that our present and future generations are better off than they are today.

Visit www.freedom50.org for more information.

Hollis Watkins is the national chair for the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference. 


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