ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit: Keep Hope Alive!

 

Yes, we shall overcome—someday.

 

 

I am thankful that I wasn’t living in the US while segregation and blatant racism were the norm. I cannot imagine not being able to sit wherever I wanted to on the bus or drink from any water fountain or have to go to areas that said, “For Coloreds Only”. I don’t know how I would have fared during those times. Would I have turned the other cheek or would I have stood up for my rights? I would like to think that I would have done the latter. When Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” He didn’t mean that we should just allow people to treat us like doormats. When He saw the people buying and selling in the Temple, He did something about it. He didn’t turn away. He went in there and overturned tables, making it clear that His Father’s house was to be respected and not treated like a den of thieves.

African Americans had the right to speak out against the treatment they were receiving. They were Americans too. America was their country and the constitution stated that all men were created equal. Unfortunately, color was a barrier that seemed impenetrable. Yet, many brave souls risked arrest, harassment because the fight for equality was crucial. It meant that the next generation will reap from the benefits they never had. They wanted to make America a better place for their children and grandchildren.

I admire women like Rosa Parks and Jane Pittman who were not afraid to stand up to those who wanted to keep them down.

The U.S. Congress called Ms. Parks “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement”. It all began one day when she was riding home on the bus which quickly filled up. She was expected to get up and give her seat to a white man and when she refused, she was arrested for violating Alabama’s segregation laws. This sparked outrage in the black community and mobilized a boycott of the bus system which lasted for 381 days and resulted in the ending of segregation on Montgomery’s buses. It also drew the interest of a young minister named Rev. Martin Luther King. (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/parksrosa/p/rosa_parks.htm). Rosa Parks remained committed to the civil rights cause until her death and she became a symbol of the civil rights struggle.

Another symbol of struggle was Miss Jane Pittman. She is described as a spunky woman who has always fought her way through the world and stood up for herself. She represents courage, fortitude, and determination. From the very beginning of the novel to the very end, Jane attempts to make herself as emotionally and physically free as possible. She is a physically strong woman who becomes a community leader because of her strength, insight, and character (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/missjane/characters.html).

Although she was a fictional character, her struggles during slavery and involvement in the civil rights’ movement were very real. She was the first African American woman to drink from a “Whites Only” fountain outside of City Hall much to the consternation of local authorities. She is also the first fictional character to have a drinking fountain named after her. The “Miss Jane Pittman” drinking fountain was originally unveiled on July 30, 1989. The three-faucet fountain is named after a fictional character created by novelist Ernest Gaines, who attended the unveiling; (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4180/is_20080523/ai_n25463145). /

 

Thanks to these two Phenomenal Women—one real and one fictional, these words ring true:

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

We shall overcome some day

 

My black brothers and sisters, I have many dreams that I hope will come true one day or if not, in my son’s lifetime. I have a dream that one day that we will not be referred to as “visible minorities”. I have a dream that we could walk into a store and not be shadowed because of the color of our skin. I have a dream that we can walk on the sidewalk or go into an elevator and not have white women recoil and clutch their handbags because they are afraid that we will rob them.

I have a dream that our children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their characters. I have a dream that a black man will no longer be stopped and asked to show his registration because he is driving a Mercedes Benz. I have a dream that African American youth will spend more time in after-school programs instead of hanging out in the streets. I won’t say I have a dream that one day there will be an African American president. Barak Obama has already fulfilled that dream.

 

‘We have our first African American first family in the White House.‘  

 

 ~ Adele Butler, 2011.

  

Keep hope alive!

 

A Celebration of Women

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