We’re all accountable to the movement

August 14, 2014

Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)

Over the past two months, I’ve been writing for the Black newspapers in Milwaukee and I’ve contributed a considerable amount of ink describing the damage that has been done to Black people and how it contributes to our current state of crisis (where you start is critical). While I’ll never let up in expressing the damage that’s been done, I don’t write about this to create some sort of crutch. Just the opposite; I write so that we can put things in perspective and to rejoice in just how great a people we are and based on our past, our potential is unlimited (I see this very clearly). There has also been a theme running throughout my writings: “It’s not what they are doing to us, it’s what we’re not doing.” And, basically, what we’re not doing is organizing. We’re all accountable to the Movement.
The movement that I refer to is the self determination of black people in america and everywhere and that every able-bodied Black man, woman, organization should be working toward. Doing anything less is absolutely unacceptable. What is a movement but the act of changing the location and/or condition of a people? Did we achieve the objectives of the movement? Are Black people able to control their destinies? The obvious answer is: No! The Civil Rights Movement was a real movement that was full of human sacrifices. We witnessed firsthand the hate that was launched against our elders, brothers, mothers, and our children. The Civil Rights Movement was the continuation of an even greater movement; the movement that freed Black people from the most inhumane enslavement under what I call the American institution of slavery.
While many of us have been bitten by the bug of life, the clock continues to run and the need for the movement will never stop. The race continues whether we run in the race or not. Not being conscious of the race, or participating in the race, we look up today and find that we’ve allowed things to slow down and even halt the movement. Movements are started because they represent the “righting of a wrong” and they start in many shapes, fashions and forms. It is not important how they start. They can start like a flicker and ultimately, depending on the severity, grow into a blazing inferno that concludes with real and sustained change (i.e. ending slavery). While many things can contribute to the movement, many times there is no single entity that is solely responsible. In fact, people get behind the movement in several ways especially when they clearly see a wrong and a positive outcome can be achieved. We are all accountable to the continuation of the struggle. No excuses.
Beginning in earnest in the 1940s, Blacks in America fundamentally knew (some more than others) that being physically freed wasn’t enough. There were just too many injustices lodged against our people. The great and honorable Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote while in his historic “Letter from Birmingham:” “I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that the privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.” Our beloved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so dedicated to the movement that he paid the ultimate sacrifice – his life!
Dr. King believed that we would get to the Promised Land (self-determination of our people) but our movement has stalled, if not stopped, and if we’re ever to get to the Promised Land, we all must be accountable to restarting our movement.
In addition to the numerous organizations that help fuel the movement through the years, there were literally hundreds of civil rights leaders (i.e. pastors, civic leaders, athletes, entertainers, lawyers, etc.) around the country that fought on behalf of Black people throughout the country: Dorothy Height, Dick Gregory, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., William L. Dawson, Whitney Young, Jr., Medgar Evears, Emmett Till, James Meredith, Bill Cosby, Cecil B. Moore, Bill Russell, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Sammy Davis, Jr., Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, James Baldwin, Ossie Davis, Ruby D. Lee, Langston Hughes, A. Phillip Randolph, Ida Wells, and so many others sacrificed their lives, fame, fortune, and their dignity for survival of Black people. We’re all accountable to the movement.