“We hope there are individuals amongst us who want to carry on the torch that illuminates the road of struggle and are willing to navigate a still torturous path for our people.”
If there were a Mt. Rushmore for civil right icons, it’s a sure bet the faces of Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Dorothy I. Height would be etched in stone along side the those of Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and one or two others who occupy the rarified air of legend in the still ongoing battle for equality.
Hooks was the former head of the NAACP who lead the organization in the post civil rights movement era. Height, the head of the National Council of Negro Women fought for equality for not only Black Americans, but women too going back to the “New Deal” of President Franklin Roosevelt.
These lions of the struggle will be greatly missed. Their deaths, only days apart from each other, reminds us that time is becoming increasingly shorter for established Black leadership still living.
While there still remains Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other major leaders of the movement, they too are nearing the time when they will be turning the reins over to a younger generation of activists.
But is there a next generation of activists out there ready (and, more importantly willing) to grab hold of those reins and continue the journey towards the promise land mapped out by Dr. King?
Will they have the passion and feel the urgency of continuing the sojourn of many giants like Hooks and Height? Do they believe the struggle is now over—if not won, given the widespread belief America is in a “post-racism era”?
We hope there are individuals amongst us who want to carry on the torch that illuminates the road of struggle and are willing to navigate a still torturous path for our people.
The challenges before Black America are still many and deceptive in that problems many outside our community believe have been resolved are—in reality—still there negatively impacting us.
The new Hooks’ and Heights must be aware of the deception and be equipped with knowledge of the new technology and media to communicate the bias and disproportionate treatment that still permeates the nation’s coming generations.
These future generations must be told that though we have come a long way and won many battles thanks to the likes of Hooks and Height, there are still battles to be fought and won.