I have always thought that being politically active was a crucial task that Americans should exhibit. When we live in a country that is “home of the free and land of the brave,” we should expect that at times this “freedom” will be questioned and compromised; as a country we should fight to make this freedom a little bit more bearable for everybody and not just one group of people.
What is freedom? Can it be defined? In class I defined freedom as the equal treatment and judgment of people; within the boundaries of this, people should have the right to do as they please when they want. However, freedom is not as simple as my definition. I believe that it is this universal difficultly to pin down just what freedom is that has caused so much distress in the United States.
In Anne Moody’s Book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, she talks about the first sit-in she was ever in and the violence that ensued. On page 26, Anne writes, in detail, about some of the violence that broke out during the sit-in, “Down on my knees on the floor, I saw Memphis lying near the lunch counter with blood running out of the corners of his mouth. As he tried to protect his face, the man who’d thrown him down kept kicking him against the head”. While Anne is attempting to protest peacefully a mob of angry white people attack her and the other protesters. After the protest “about ninety policemen were standing outside the store: they had been watching the whole thing through the windows, but had not come in to stop the mob or do anything”. She further notes that, “After the sit-in, all I could think of was how sick Mississippi whites were. They believed so much in the segregated Southern way of life, they would kill to preserve it” (pg. 267). I was a little shocked by Anne’s description of the violence that occurred and the sentiment of white people in the South. I always knew that during The Movement- that took place during the late fifties and sixties- that many acts of violence occurred. I would like to think that people would not kill a group of people based on the color of their skin. However, in this capacity and on a larger scale the act of repressing a group of people by belittling those with absurd laws and junctions that leads to violence has happened many times throughout history. The fact of the matter is that during this period white people felt entitled to having more power over black people; whether they felt threatened because they thought that by having equality for everybody that the “white race” would meet its demise, is a concept that has been mentioned over and over again, but I believe that many factors contributed to this rocky point in American history.
What I love about this period in history is the compassion and feelings that brought together all these people and formed, The Movement. The pureness of the struggle for Human rights is so powerful, yet a difficult task to complete. I believe that for this period of time and train of thought that the people involved in The Movement were the most revolutionary thinkers and performers. They acted on their instincts and attempted to make a difference. I feel that our current young generation is a very technical one that is not as politically spontaneous and passionate, but rather apathetic.
In the end I would like to think that “Everybody should like everybody else” as said by Andy Warhol. Not everybody is the same but this is what makes life so beautiful. I think everybody should strive to be their own individual because as we are confronted with violence, racist people, attitudes, and ideas we can use our individuality to fight these injustices.