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Passing the Torch



by Sandra M. Hawkes

As I stood in awe of my ancestors and reflected on the significance of Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and what it does and should mean to all African Americans and the world, the historical events commemorated were:

150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment

150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War

50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act

Each one was a long, protracted process of battles and real wars to humanize and enfranchise black people so that future generations could reap the real benefits. We owe a deep debt to all of our ancestors who individually and collectively suffered death, indignities, inhumane treatment and unspeakable pain. They suffered and persevered through it all in the hope that their lives and future generations could simply be treated as human and thrive in America in spite of the masters we served willingly and unwillingly.

In the words of my departed mother: there is no such thing as can’t when it comes to trying and succeeding at your goals. Our ancestors used their gifts and talents to make America what it is today. It is up to each of us to harness and use the power of our gifts and that of your ancestors known and unknown to improve our families, communities and the world. We must do our absolute best to save ourselves from being totally destroyed in spite of the continued assaults, deaths and threats on the lives of men, women and children of color.

As black people we sometimes can’t see the light of day for the tunnel of modern day distractions (technology, brand/celebrity worship, etc.) that threaten to keep us from building strong families and communities. I commend and respect the everyday heroes – fathers, mothers, family connections and community organizations that fight for, nourish and sustain the black family unit. We must all do our part to ensure the legacy of us was not and is not in vain. We have come too far and succeeded in all areas of life to be drop kicked, imitated and marginalized. As the North Star guided our ancestors out of slavery to freedom we are the elders on whom this generation depends for guidance and love to show them the way out of the valley of death and despair and into the light of their destiny and future. Our very survival depends on reaching and teaching our children to be what our ancestors were not always allowed to be – unstoppable kings and queens.

Our ancestors have proven there is no such thing as can’t. We cannot ignore our future!

Sandi is a Freelance Writer, and Information Technology (IT) consultant based in Maryland. This is her first column for the bullet.

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