Still in the afterglow of New Year’s Day and the season of resolutions, it seems like a good occasion to take the long view and remind ourselves of what we aspire to be as an organized precinct. Sherrilyn Ifill, Director-Counsel for the Legal Defense Fund captures the challenge we face: “The citizenship that most of us have been exercising is simply inadequate to the needs of this country.” Her statement is especially true today, at the beginning of 2022.
That citizenship will require more than simply voting. It requires that we become more than informed spectators and seasonal, election-day participants. It will require that we step off the sidewalk, into the road, and join the march; to become activists rather than spectators.
I sometimes ask myself: if I had I been present on March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, would I have had the moral awareness and physical courage to step off the curb, into that stream of people, up and over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, with Alabama State Troopers waiting on the other side? To be honest, I’m not sure.
One thing is for sure: had I been a member of a group that educated me, animated me, expanded my moral and political vision, I would have been better prepared to make that step if and when the occasion arose. The isolated individual is too often the victim of cramped vision or fearful mindset. It’s in the company of other people–people who may not look exactly like us, who can expand our moral vision and “en-courage” us–that we are empowered to think and act in better, more visionary ways. We aim to be that group: to stir each other up to greater deeds than we are capable of individually.
Today, on January 2, 2022, we’re standing in the shadow of January 6, 2021. As we approach the anniversary of that fateful day, many of us felt it was important to acknowledge the seriousness of what happened a year ago at the nation’s capitol. For that reason, we’ll gather at Roosevelt Wilson Park, on Thursday, January 6, at 5:30 PM. (for updates, as programming develops, please check the website). If, on that significant anniversary, you feel the need to get your body involved, to get away from a screen, in the open air, in the presence of others who share your convictions, please join us. It seems good to start the year off by doing something tangible and physical.
While mindful of the past, the focus at the rally will be on the future, on what we can do in 2022. Those battles probably won’t involve facing down state troopers and police dogs, but it may mean that we allot a few hours a week to political work: joining a committee, helping to build a neighborhood network of voters, making calls, canvassing, donating, turning up at a meeting that might be inconvenient or tedious, learning about candidates in every single election, primaries included, speaking up against practices like gerrymandering, expressing your opinion forcefully and repeatedly to elected officials like John Bradford and Thom Tillis. These are the small, painstaking things we can do right now.
Taking nothing away from the Founding Fathers, I look at those faces in the picture above, those men and women, young and old, average folks, most of them victims of a brutal and unfair history, and every one of them seems to be a founder of a new, inclusive politics that the world did not know in 1965 and frankly, has yet to see: a fully inclusive, fully functioning democracy. In our own small and incremental way, we can be a part of that march.