This past Sunday, one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement passed from labor to reward.
Jefferson Thomas, one of the “Little Rock Nine” who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957, the largest high school in Arkansas, died in Columbus, Ohio of pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Thomas and his eight school mates courageously put to the test the federal government’s resolve to enforce a 1954 Supreme Court order outlawing racial segregation in the nation’s public schools.
The Nine’s courage and resolve helped open the nation’s school house doors to greater academic opportunity for generations of African Americans who followed.
Their heroism was finally rewarded in 1999 when President Bill Clinton bestowed upon them Congressional Gold Medals in recognition of the 40th anniversary of their enrollment.
The passing of this giant of “The Movement” is another reminder that the sun is setting increasingly faster on those remaining individuals who put their lives on the line to give us equality and justice not only in the classroom, but life in general.
We the heirs—the beneficiaries—of their sacrifice and courage must keep hope alive and never forget them or the reasons we as African Americans have come this far since those historic days.
Let us resolve here and now to overcome the obstacles still confronting us as a people and make fully real the dream the remaining eight and other Civil Rights greats carried and used as a sword and shield against the dragons of hate and oppression.
The state’s primary elections are next week, Sept. 14. This week’s front-page story on state Rep. Barbara Toles contains our endorsements, making this the second time in the Community Journal’s history that we have endorsed primary election candidates.
We encourage you, our readers, to exercise the most important right one can undertake in a democracy: the right to vote!
There is till time to examine the records of the candidates in both print and electronic media (television and internet) and determine who will best represent your interests in state and national government.
One of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement was winning the right to vote, which was won with the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We implore you again to vote! If you don’t, then you can’t complain!