The war for racial justice needs soldiers of all types

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Earlier in the week, while preparing for the march and rally to save historically Black colleges and universities, it occurred to several promoters of the march and rally that some would-be soldiers might be reluctant or even decline to sign-on to the effort because it was set to begin with a two-mile march from the Masonic Lodge at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 14th. The good news since the original announcement is that the beginning of the march has been changed to 9:00 a.m.

Even that change, however, may pose a problem for some would-be soldiers. Consequently, it has now been suggested that those who may be reluctant to try and march at 9:00 a.m. simply meet the group of marchers at the State Capitol Building at 9:30 a.m.

This will not make them any less of a soldier. It’s only another maneuver in this very necessary battle to draw attention to the plight of Black colleges, universities, and professional schools. In many battles, soldiers have marched to meet an enemy, while others were stationed near the scene of the battle. Those stationed near the scene are just as important and often carry even more damaging firepower.

As in other battles, as many soldiers as can be mustered are needed in this skirmish. The press, and even more importantly their enemies, will be watching. It is a skirmish in the overall battle against racial injustice.

When considering the overall, long-term fight for racial justice, one must also consider the necessary roles required. Researchers and observers are needed to compile information and see exactly what is going on and what can be done to remedy the situation. Speakers and writers are needed to inform and inspire others to take action that is centered around the task at hand. Artists are also needed to inspire others, especially younger people. Every battle depends upon and benefits from the same kinds of soldiers.

It is also crucial in this struggle to have people on the inside and the outside who are lawyers, officials, and political leaders. They can work to change laws and institutions through the traditional process and/or through alternative processes, as they understand the system. No stone can be left unturned in a battle as crucial as that of racial justice in America.

Lest they be forgotten or overlooked, teachers can and should play a vital role in this, as in other struggles. Teachers are key in terms of revealing the truth to their students. They are invaluable in helping youngsters understand the landscape and the human story; in prompting them to ask crucial questions and in helping them to find their place in the on-going struggle.

Similarly, in every war there is a need for donors/financial supporters. The battle for racial justice is no different in that regard. Nevertheless, care should be taken that the donors do not become the people who call the shots in the overall battle.

Many will realize that, in this entire discussion, no mention has been made of soldiers who are armed with physical weapons. That is not because such soldiers are unnecessary. They sometimes are quite crucial. They are often the ultimate soldiers, when other things fail and/or when it becomes necessary to stress the point that the other efforts are serious. In past phases of the struggle for racial justice, armed soldiers have been there to assure that people have a right to protests and engage in civil disobedience without becoming lambs in a slaughter. Groups like the Deacons for Defense, the Black Panther Party, and the NFAC militia have stood by to protect Black protesters. Even more militant groups have been organized in case there was a need for an armed struggle.

The point in discussing the various roles to be played and types of soldiers to be deployed is to indicate that in every battle different types are needed if there is to be success. In order to be even more illustrative, one might re-purpose the categories of people and indicate that battles can be and have been lost when enough people, or enough key people, functioned as Uncle Tom researchers and writers; Uncle Tom speakers and artists; Uncle Tom lawyers, officials, and political leaders; Uncle Tom educators; and the like.

There are many ways to be a soldier in the war for racial justice. If one is not able to be a marcher at Saturday’s event, he/she should join the other soldiers at the Capitol at 9:30. From that point on, if he/she is not already a committed soldier, they can enlist to not only save Black institutions, but promote and improve them as well.

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The war for racial justice needs soldiers of all types

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
August 19, 2021