Editor’s Note: Lee Fisher, president of the NAACP, Oneonta chapter, delivered this address Sunday, June 7, at the Rally for Justice on the Otsego County Courthouse steps in Cooperstown.
By LEE FISHER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all humans are created (and treated) equal with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Now more than ever this nation must live up to the obligations imposed upon it by the Emancipation Proclamation.
How far has it gone in assuring to each and every citizen, irrespective of our color, the equality of opportunity and equality before the law guaranteed in the Constitution?
The murder of George Floyd by what is considered a “bad acting” policeman was a horrific, unspeakable tragedy. A routine arrest becomes a de facto execution. The protests we are witnessing all around the country are not just from the killing of Brianna Taylor in Louisville, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Trayvon Martin in Florida or Eric Gardner in New York. People are demanding change in America.
We should not just be here only for the senseless murder of George Floyd but the discriminatory practice about everyday issues such as a living wage, affordable housing, the cost of higher education, voter suppression, red lining and the list goes on.
In her book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” Maya Angelou said, if you’re for the right thing, then you do it without thinking – massive groups of people want change.
Everyone should be on the side of fairness and equality. The massive protests we see are urgent responses to the systemic racism that has afflicted and torn apart our communities, not just the past few months but, for blacks, 400 years of a type of Apartheid.
People in the privileged class many times don’t understand just how difficult it is to face the injustices that threaten people of color’s personal safety, as we witnessed with George Floyd and many more too numerous to mention – because of institutional systemic racism, not just everyday but for 400 years.
Dr. King’s Dream for America was already delivered 57 years ago – 57 years – and 400 years of carefully planned institutional racism. How much time is needed, America?
America. America, we are being called out by the whole world. America, we can’t be in hiding in plain sight anymore. It’s great that all of us are here – but you don’t get credit for just showing up. We must put this energy that we are now peacefully in protest marches, speeches, demonstrations – and this must be transformed into real action in November. If you want change, go to the polls and vote.
America, we can’t hide anymore in plain sight because we are being watched from a distance
not just here but around the world. Do we really mean what we say when we pledge allegiance.
If you really say America stands for liberty and justice for all with your right hand over your heart – waving an American Flag – ask yourself: Is America true, honest and loyal to what that flag symbolizes as a Christian nation?
Is it okay to stand in front of a church with a Bible upside down and backward and say, come on guys, join me in this photo shoot while protesters had to get pepper-sprayed.
What’s wrong with that picture? America, we can’t hide anymore in plain sight. If America stands for its colors – red, white and blue – remember, those colors stand for black, white, brown, yellow, red, straight and gay.
Let’s to the right thing.
This is our opportunity to call for America to stand up tall and begin the task of healing these open wounds inflicted by America’s system of systemic racism.
America we can’t hide anymore in plain sight. We have been walking around racism, discrimination bigotry and hatred – and not dealing with it directly.
Remember every time you pledge allegiance to the flag. We America, must as a nation, as one nation under God, not divided, together with liberty and justice for all, go forward shoulder to shoulder, arm and arm, working together in understanding, peace