|A shirt at a protest at the Mississippi State Capital Building. Photo by August Harp.|
June 21, 1964: one black man and two white men traveled from Meridian, Mississippi to the community of Longdale to meet congregation members at a church that had been burned to the ground by a hate group known as the Klu Klux Klan, or the KKK. On their way to meet with the congregation, the three were arrested at a traffic stop outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi, for speeding. They were held in prison. A number of hours later the three were released, but law enforcement followed them. Before they left Neshoba County, the three Freedom Riders were pulled over and abducted. 3 shots were fired. Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney were left dead in a earthen dam where their bodies were hidden.
August 13, 2017: More than a thousand white supremacists gather in Charlottesville, Virginia each armed with tiki torches and hate. When met with counter protesters, the White Nationalists turned violent. At the height of the violence, 20-year-old white supremacist, James Alex Fields Jr. got in his car and rammed it into a large crowd of counter protesters. 32 year old activist Heather Heyer was left dead and 19 others severely injured. Later, President Trump would condemn the violence “on many sides."
America still faces the same violence it did 53 years ago, and I am part of the problem. We all are. I am a white male living in the heart of the problem in America. What have I really done to help? White people, we need to stop telling ourselves that we are the good guys. Malcolm X said “For the white man to ask the black man if he hates him is just like the rapist asking the raped, or the wolf asking the sheep, ‘Do you hate me?’” Our job as white america is not to prove that we are not bad, but rather to help the good. White people, we need to rid ourselves of our partisan bias and move to an anti-hate bias. White people, we put a racist in the Oval Office; we have to accept that he is pandering to the alt-right movement. White people, we did not start a mile ahead only to sit on our comfortable ego and watch as violence unfolds right in front of our very eyes. White people, we need to take a stand, not for ourselves, but for the good of America.