Writer Name: Donnell Hicks
Title: Freedom is Precious
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; we hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Freedom is a gateway out of bondage to avoid oppression from human nature. Most people don’t realize the mere importance of the term “freedom.” It is described as the quality or state of being free, liberated, and independent. A few people of this generation don’t know how freedom was born or the many brave people who made major contributions and who sacrificed their own lives so that everyone may have a chance at peace and harmony. The cost of freedom has come with enormous loss, especially from the men and women who gave their lives throughout history during their tenure by serving in the United States military.
At the height of the formation of the thirteen colonies during the American Revolution, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin who lived in the thirteen colonies fought to gain America’s independence from the stronghold of Great Britain, who was the oppressor attempting to keep its grip on young America at the time. As a result, many people died simply so the thirteen colonies could have their own freedom. The diligent sacrifices those people made still have a triumphant effect on the United States two-hundred years later with three well-known factions we carry in our lives, known as Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and the Declaration of Independence.
Another example that illustrates the high cost of freedom is the Civil War which was fought to end slavery and the division between the North and the Confederate south. The abolitionists from the north wanted to break African-Americans out of slavery at the same time confederate whites from the south fought to keep slavery around. Many former slaves who joined the Union Army from the north died attempting to free the remaining slaves who remained in bondage of the Confederate south during the Civil War. Amid the ongoing battle from the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves of the American south to be liberated from their white slave owners. President Lincoln saw that slaves should be created equal, having the same rights as white people. However, President Lincoln was assassinated days following the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.
Years following the abolishment of slavery, former slaves died trying to gain their freedom, liberty, and become equal instead of second or third class citizens in America. Prominent historic figures like Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Dubois preached about spreading fairness for all African-Americans to end poverty and enhance education for African-Americans. Harriett Tubman led 300 African-American slaves to freedom.
The struggles for civil rights and voting rights appeared in the fifties and sixties with marches, demonstrations, lunchroom sit-ins, and segregation of public facilities like schools, libraries, etc. A lot of historic figures who became heroes and martyrs attempting to make a difference in America during the civil rights era were:
The Little Rock Nine
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Tuskegee Airmen
Robert F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
The Three Freedom Riders (James Chaney, Mickey Shwarner, and Andrew Goodman)
The Black Panthers (Bobby Seal and Huey Newton)
If it weren’t for the many sacrifices these people have made over the course of history, we as African-Americans wouldn’t have voting rights or civil rights. We wouldn’t be able to sit in theaters, shop at department stores or restaurants, or use public pools. We wouldn’t be able to sit in the front of the bus. These great people believed freedom was very important and precious to everybody in America. They kept pushing the rock until the rock made it up to the mountaintop.
The very important piece which gave African-Americans a slight chance at freedom is when the Supreme Court led by Thurgood Marshall ruled on the Brown vs. The Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas that led to the assimilation of young black children and young white children to be placed in the same public schools. Along with gaining freedom, many historic civil right figures died in the process so all men would be created equal under the laws of the United States of America.
Sometimes I don’t understand why a person takes his/her freedom for granted when they become incarcerated. When a person goes to prison, does the person realize he/she has given up their freedom to vote or go anywhere he/she wants? Over the course of history, people were lynched, shot, bit by dogs, and even had water hoses sprayed on them just to reach the freedom land. This is the cost of freedom they had to endure over history that we should not forget. It is our responsibility to take it to heart and continue the hard work they put forth making society better by bringing all human races together in peace and harmony. Our forefathers and foremothers fought to end the injustice, the bigotry, racism, discrimination, and segregation so that myself and this new generation could have a chance to grow. How can we forget the tremendous strides our ancestors have made throughout America’s history?
We must not forget. We must never forget the hard work our ancestors had put forth. We must not forget those who paved a way for us to be where we are, to go where we want to go or do as we please right now today in 2012. If it wasn’t for these precious gems who we call our foremothers and forefathers who fought for freedom, we wouldn’t have been able to elect Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States of America. If it wasn’t for people like Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Harriett Tubman and their courageous efforts during America’s most turbulent times as African-Americans, where would we be at today? How will our lives be without the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965? I must say everything happens for a reason and that reason alone we shouldn’t never forget. They began the quest for freedom and we should do everything in our power to keep their dreams alive - not only for ourselves, but also for the next generation and their children and so on.
Freedom is our most basic gift to hold or lose. Freedom is more than a human emotion. Freedom has cost plenty of lives, beyond the ability to measure all the lives lost or compromised in the fight to preserve it. It is up to us as African-Americans to stand at that gate adding to the line of heroes and martyrs who came before us and tell the world NO MORE hatred; NO MORE disparity; and NO MORE tolerance. We must ensure the fight must continue, for the freedom light won’t be dimming any time soon.
Freedom is precious.