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Like Washington March, Youngsters Need to Lead Today's Movement

by Todd A. Smith

 

And a Child Shall Lead Them          

Young people have always sparked changed in the world.  Whether it was a young Jesus Christ preaching as a teenager or a young Martin Luther King, Jr. telling the world about his dream at only 34-years-old, young people have always changed the status quo and made the world a better place.

            On Wednesday, Americans celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and what struck me the most was how young King was when he was truly transforming the world.

            Although youngsters are sometimes looked down upon as inexperienced, it will be the young generation that makes a difference in the world and it will be them that finally eliminate prejudice and racism in America.  This generation has to find inspiration in what our forefathers did 50 years ago without the benefits of today’s technology, and use all of today’s bells and whistles to change the world.

            “The entire world drew strength from that example, whether it be young people who watched from the other side of the Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid,” President Barack Obama said.  “Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts…That’s the depth that I and millions owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries—folks who could have run a company, maybe, if they ever had a chance…”

            Because they did not have a chance, we all owe those who paved the way for us.

            My grandparents were those maids and laborers and because of them I can own a media company and I, along with everyone else, owe it to them to continue to speak out against injustice and make this imperfect world as close to perfect as possible.

            Fifty years ago, civil rights leaders were able to gather 200,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and protest for equal access to jobs and equal treatment without social media, hundreds of television channels or the Internet.  What more can this generation do with technology that allows them to reach the world?

            Although the George Zimmerman verdict did not turn out the way many wanted it to, we must use social media and all technology in that same way to shed light on injustices that still occur in the Black community.  That technology exposed a story that national media initially ignored.

            Although we are young, we must remember that the leaders of the 1950s and 1960s were young too, but that did not stop their movement.  Their youth gave the movement its energy.

            We must continue to rally to encourage people of color to vote, to sit on juries and to give people a chance at employment despite their sometimes checkered past.  Our people have the right to vote and sit on juries now, and that’s where real changes are made.  We must take advantage of that and encourage others to take advantage of it as well.

            The fight is different and the way we communicate is different, but the spirit is still the same; and young people epitomize that spirit that is still needed today.

This article was published on Friday 30 August, 2013.
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