When I first learned about our country’s history, my favorite president of all time was Lincoln. Although Washington was a great president, I felt that Lincoln possessed the most difficult presidency of all time and handled it with grace and strength. From that moment on, I was a Republican because I wanted to be part of a party that did not stand by while others were treated so inhumanely.
This same party went on to pass the Civil Rights Act that again changed our nation’s path. When I learned of this in school, I was proud that our country resisted the status-quo and tried to finish what Lincoln and King had started. We have come a long way, and most of us are trying to work beyond our sins (and in some ways repair the damage that was done.)
Many countries have a legacy of shame for the inhumane acts perpetrated on their fellow man, but I always felt that America was a country that could evolve into something more substantial than the despots of history. We must move on and not be shamed into it. We must do it because it is the right thing to do. But some in this country like to hang this shame on us like a scarlet letter. If you are a Christian, you understand this feeling of guilt and shame; but you also know about the amazing grace of forgiveness.
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I do not know if all can be forgiven in this realm, but I do know that we can try. We can leave a better legacy for our children if we try. You change with age and wisdom; and when you become a mother, you feel that you must pass on a legacy that is more meaningful than yours. What would I pass on? What would that legacy be called?
I am no scholar. I am only a woman whose words may be meaningless to the elite and less articulated than others of prominence; but I speak from the heart. Today, everything has become a “civil right”. To me, these talking heads have diminished what President Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. died for. Nowadays, “civil rights” has become a cliché; and it saddens me. Instead of uplifting our country and moving on, some try to drag the past into every political situation to divide and conquer instead of trying to heal and bring together a people. I do not think Martin Luther King Jr. would have appreciated the way we have mocked his legacy. I believe he would have embraced our progress and worked on our weaknesses to insure a better quality of life for all.
The Civil Rights Act was supposed to bring dignity to our nation. It was not enacted to be used by politicians to control or dupe us into becoming a nation of takers. It was enacted to bring freedom and justice for those who just wanted to be able to live and enjoy what they worked so hard for without intimidation or fear.
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You rarely hear of someone being arrested for having sex with someone of the same sex, but you know that black Americans were arrested and killed just for being black. No one to my knowledge has been arrested for not having insurance, but you know that a black man could have been arrested or killed for looking at a white woman the wrong way. I have not heard (as of yet) anyone being arrested in this country for being a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew; but we all know that black Americans could be arrested or killed for having a gun for protection.
So, when we talk about “civil rights,” let’s not demean the legacy of President Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and the thousands of black Americans who gave their lives for us to have these rights and instead stand up for freedom to pursue justice and uphold the truth. President Lincoln once said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”And Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” These profound words of wisdom and their courage to stand up were their legacy (and is what the Civil Rights Act was all about.)
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