The fight for social justice and for equality is a difficult fight because in real time you have to deal with so much hate, anger, and venom that over time dissipates. And let me give you an example.
In Little Rock, Arkansas, in Central High School, there were these teenagers called the Little Rock Nine that were gonna be the first teenagers to integrate that high school. Now, there was a woman in this group, a child at the time, she was just a freshman. Her name was Elizabeth Eckford. And Elizabeth Eckford’s story is different than the remaining eight, because what happened was they had a plan, they were all gonna meet at the school. And the woman named Daisy Bates, who was coordinating all of this, realized that there’s gonna be so much hate and difficulty at the school that they didn’t want to have the kids meet at the school.
So she called all of the homes and said, let’s meet at my house so we can go to the school together. But the Eckford family didn’t have a phone, so they couldn’t receive that notification. So Elizabeth Eckford showed up at Central High School on the first day of school by herself, and she got off the bus stop, not the school bus stop, but the city bus stop.
So it was about a two block walk, and she had to walk up this hill, and she was walking up the hill and she could hear murmurs of people kind of rumbling. And she gets up to the top of the hill and she sees hundreds of people there purely to spit on her, to throw things at her, to curse her, to call her names, to threaten her.
She tried to go into the school and the United States military was there not to allow her in school. So she walked across the school to the next bus stop, and she sits at that bus stop. There’s a famous picture of a white man standing next to her that was a reporter.
The reporters created like a horseshoe around her to protect her, but people were still spitting upon her. She had so much spit on her, it was dripping off of her. It soaked her clothes, a dress she made to wear on the first day of her schooling. She got on the bus and she went home. She later said she never saw the dresser again. Her mother saw her, cried, took the dress off, never saw it again.
Now, if we think about it, and you can see there are pictures of this, like I didn’t, I didn’t make a word of this up. There are pictures of this, and you can see people with hate, rage, venom in their eyes, screaming at this 14 year old.
But now we realize how wrong they were. And there are people now, right now fighting for civil rights and fighting for justice that are dealing with that same hate and rage and that energy that 20 years from now, well, we’re gonna realize how right they were. And I admire them. They’re literally like heroes to me. Colin Kaepernick is a name that comes to mind who decided to not stand when the American anthem was played before sports games.
Now, whether you agree with him or not, you have to understand the purpose of protest is to create controversy. If your protest doesn’t make anybody uncomfortable, then it’s not a protest. He decided to sit during the national anthem, not wanting to be disrespectful. He took a meeting with a Navy seal. The Navy Seal supported him and said, please just honor the flag as you do this.
Colin Kaepernick decided instead of sitting, he would kneel. And he started kneeling during the national anthem, and he never played football again. That was the end of his football career. And the reason he had a hard time standing for this country’s national anthem is because, as he put it, it’s hard for me to stand for a country that is okay with police brutality because unarmed black men are being killed at a rate in this country by police officers that concerned him. So he stood up, he protested for that, and he never played football again.
And it was crazy for me because I saw that same rage that Elizabeth Eckford experienced all the way back in like 1955, I think it was. I saw that same rage because I have friends that I went to high school with that I know to be good people. And one of ’em posted on Facebook that they wishes he could shoot him in the head.
Literally, it’s what he put on Facebook. I wish I could shoot him in the head like, you want to take this man’s life violently because he’s standing up for something? That’s a hero to me. He was willing to make his life uncomfortable, to make other people’s lives better. Makes me think of Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was the same way when Muhammad Ali refused to go to the draft.
They crucified him, but we now recognize it as a significant stance for peace. And during the prime of Muhammad Ali’s boxing career, he lost four years. Now he came back, had some more boxing matches, but he lost four years of his career, he will never get back standing up for peace in real time. While it’s happening around us, there’s hate, venom and energy.
But over time, we can see the truth more clearly. And for me, that makes the people who are fighting for social justice powerful because they have to deal with a struggle that is hard for you guys to understand how difficult it is.
Another person that I don’t think gets enough credit, that is a true hero to me, is a, is a woman named Donella Frazier. Now, you might not not know that name. That might not be a name that that sticks out to you, but it’s a, it’s a name that means something to me. It’s a person I’ll never not think about. In Donella Frazier at the time was a 17 year old young African-American girl who was just walking down the street and she observes an altercation between a police officer and a black man.
That black man was George Floyd. And she recorded the police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. I believe it was nine minutes and 37 seconds. And Donella Frazier recorded the entire traumatic event. Now, Donella Frazier’s had a difficult experience since then. She’s experienced ptsd, she’s experienced harassment from the police officer. She’s experienced harassment online. But had Donella Frazier not recorded that video,
then the volume and the calls for change that happened in 2020 would not have taken place. So not only did she have to be courageous enough to record the video, she had to be courageous enough to post the video and attach her name to it, which exposed this young person to tremendous difficulties. And just like I was saying,
but all the others, like when you’re in the middle of it, it’s harder and people torment you. And over time we’re able to look at this young lady and realize how brave and courageous she was. And as a result of being so brave and so courageous, I honor her. I admire her. I look up to her, and she’s one of my heroes because fighting for social justice, while that energy is so negative, is such a hard thing to do.
I also admire some internet personalities. Shaun King, Shaun King’s a controversial person, but he’s controversial because of exactly what I’m trying to tell you, that we get upset with people in real time. But if not for Shaun King, a lot of these things would not have been coming to pass.
I remember how I learned about Shaun King one day. There was a police officer who dragged a woman out of her car and and murdered her. And Shaun King said, I want his badge number and his name. And I didn’t know who Shaun King was, and I just thought, what is that? And a couple hours later, Shaun King got his badge number, his name posted online, that person was arrested, and then eventually tried and convicted of this murder.
And I realized that social media and cell phones and Youtube and platforms like this have become a prominent weapon in the fight for social justice and equality and equity. And Shaun King is someone that, that uses those platforms to help hold society accountable for the way black people are treated.
And I admire him for that. I admire him a lot for that. I admire there are people like you can’t create true change without addressing the legality of these changes. So there must be people in the legal world fighting these fights. And it makes me really want to admire, it makes me really, really look up to Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are two lawyers that have stood with families and some of the most difficult scenarios imaginable.
And if not for being able to go into the legal world and fight these battles, change would not happen. So I honor Lee Merrit and Ben Crump because they go into the legal room, they provide legal counsel and advice to families in their darkest hour, and they go into the courtroom and they, and they fight legally for justice. Because you have to, like the platform can’t just be social media. It can’t just be marching down the street. It can’t just be kneeling at an athletic event. It also has to be going into the courtroom and fighting the fight legally. And Lee Merritt and Ben Crump have been doing that for years.
And they’re people that I admire. All of the people that I just listed, they all deal with hate and controversy and overwhelming negativity and overwhelming energy on social media. And I do believe very strongly that in the same way that we look back on Elizabeth Eckford walking to school that day, and we see those pictures of those people yelling and screaming, we look back and we realize that little 14 year old girl, we should have been throwing roses upon her. We should have been cheering for her, but we didn’t on that day. That’s not the energy she got.
In the same way, I think over time, all the people I just listed will be remembered very differently because they have done heroic things. And sometimes when you’re doing heroic things and you’re doing them in real time, the response is negative because people have a hard time accepting change. And these people pushed for change and these people accomplished change. And these people are pushing for change and accomplishing change now in real time.
And as we wrap up Black History Month, I want you guys to be soldiers of change going forward. I want everybody, regardless of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, I want you to be soldiers for change. Be courageous and be strong, and believe in what’s right. Do it for the greater good and do it all year round. Like this is not just something we need to do in February. Of course, I did this video series in February because it’s Black History Month and it matters and we need to focus on these things.
But I also want you to be someone that does this all year around because the fight for social justice shouldn’t just be a one month thing. It should be an all year thing. It should be a life commitment. I certainly have committed my life to it and have had to make some changes in the field in which I am in and come from, which is the, the field of psychotherapy. I’ve had to hold certain people accountable and I’ve also become controversial. And that’s okay. That’s just part of it. I would do it again a hundred times and I expect I’ll have to do it again a few more times. But that’s just part of it.
So go off and enjoy the freedoms that previous people have fought for you to enjoy. Enjoy the society that previous people have fought to make a more global, holistic, and accepting society and do more work to make it even better as a society, because we’ve come a long way, but we got a long way to go.
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