Organizers of HK on J have stressed that this event is the beginning of a new progressive movement and not just a moment. The significance of this statement was made clear to me by a conversation I had with a gentlemen, Sherman, who I met on the street after the rally.
Sherman had been involved with the civil rights movement in the 60’s; he had marched with Angela Davis in Raleigh. He felt the 60’s movement fell short of its goals because the leadership became complacent. Consequently, the same issues of educational equality, justice and economic opportunity still challenge us.
Sherman told me stories of living in a segregated Raleigh, about driving to church every Sunday past the billboard with three hooded figures proudly proclaiming Johnson County to be the home of the Klu Klux Klan.
Being a ‘transplanted Yankee’ who didn’t move south until the mid-80’s, I have never experienced racism like he described. Sherman’s stories were surreal to me; something out of the distant past. Then I read in the paper that there is resurgence of the KKK in North Carolina, this time targeting Hispanics. I was both shocked and dismayed that such an extreme form of racial hatred could exist here today, but it does.
This news should be a wake-up call to progressive-minded North Carolinians. We can not become complacent about housing, health care, criminal justice, education, or civil rights issues. If we don’t push forward on these issues now, we’re going to slide backwards.