We use the birth date of Martin Luther King Jr to launch a series of reports we call Black History.
We first take a look at the Summer of 2020. The racial unrest and the black lives matter movements made 2020 a year for the history books.
Along with those significant memories came teachable moments. We spoke to members of the African American community about what we learned.
The Summer of 2020 was a Summer unlike any other. It was a Summer full of history.
“If you go back to the 50s and 60s, that was the start of the civil rights movement and there’s a big correlation between the civil rights movement and what happened this past Summer. It’s called demonstrations,” said Dorris Carson Williams, President/CEO of African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA.
Those demonstrations were shown through movements and protests. A shocking repeat in history that was never expected.
“I was a teenager in the 70s. I didn’t think a lot about social issues and think a lot about politics and things like that. I just had a good time. It was disco time. I danced a lot. So it was a different time. I think young people now haven’t been affected by that. It’s right in their face and they know that they have to still deal with that,” said Terrence Mitchell, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Edinboro University.
But while some of us may see the events from last Summer as a repeat of history, it can also be seen as a teachable moment.
“What the movement did show is that there’s a level of consciousness between the movement and George Floyd,” said Williams.
The events from last Summer gave people a chance to open their eyes.
“We have to take the blinders off and understand we still have a problem and that we have to be active in trying to work for it,” said Mitchell.
It showed that differences can be set aside and people can work together.
“I was I thought rather successful in bringing people of all races, ages, genders together,” said Williams.
And it showed us that instead of moving backward, we can still move forward.
“It feels like sometimes we’ve gone backwards, but we haven’t gone backwards. It’s just that we haven’t eliminated the problem and the root problem is that you can’t make people think the same. You can’t make people understand each other. What you can make people do though and what we’ve seen is we need to put more emphasis on trying to help people understand how to be civil together even when they disagree,” said Mitchell.
Despite other issues surrounding the root problem, we can overcome. However, to overcome, it starts with us.
“Be a positive voice, speak the truth,” said Williams.