We devastated the ability of African Americans in this country to do what other immigrant populations had done, which is to work hard and acquire wealth. Black people worked hard and they were lynched for it. They worked hard and they were forced to leave for it. They worked hard and they were disenfranchised and humiliated for it. And that story hasn’t been told, and the consequence of that bigotry hasn’t been acknowledged. And in fact, what we do is say, “Oh, the black people, they don’t work that hard. They’re not this, they’re not that.” We continue to develop these narratives about some deficit in the African American community.When you think about it, when you really think about it, how enslaved black people got their emancipation and chose to work with those who had enslaved them, chose to find a way to do business, chose to find a way to forgive their enslavers, to live in peace and harmony, and despite that heroic choice, were mistreated for it, were disenfranchised for it, and then they were terrorized for it. And even in the midst of terror and lynching, black people weren’t calling for vengeance. They weren’t calling for violence and revenge, they were just calling for peace and security. And during this period of civil rights, . . . when you understand the legacy of lynching and the violence that people face, you have to think differently about what Claudette Colvin did on the Montgomery bus. What Rosa Parks did on the Montgomery bus. By resisting segregation, they were risking their lives. They were saying, “I’m prepared to die for freedom.” And we haven’t acknowledged that . . . .And it saddens me that African Americans, when they express their pain, when they protest about police violence, when they question inequality, when they raise issues of bondage and discrimination, African Americans are seen as not patriotic. I can’t identify a race of people in this country who are more committed to the health of this country, who believe more in the Constitution, who believe more in equality and liberation and fairness to everyone else than black people. Because despite the brutality, despite the hate, despite the violence, we keep saying, “Let’s find a way to move forward.” And it’s a remarkable story of a community of people who desperately just want peace.
April 24, 2018 at 6:01 AM EDT