I watched this summer’s national events with a heavy heart as protestors from Ferguson, Missouri demanded justice for the death of Mike Brown, an unarmed, Black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer.
This month, the Midwestern city erupted in a second bout of uprisings — #FergusonOctober trended worldwide as zealous chants echoed throughout the streets of the small, passion-filled town.
These chants reverberated similar messages that the nation heard during the civil rights movement 50 years ago. But that’s where our problem lies: 2014 feels uncomfortably similar to 1964, as discrimination is still proverbial in our country.
“We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” (Malcolm X, 1965)
Ferguson retells our nation’s forgotten story, one that reminds people of the harsh realities we so often ignore — from police brutality to racial discrimination and beyond. It has brought to our attention, yet again, the inequality that is so deeply ingrained in our country’s political and social systems.
But most important of all is the Ferguson parable’s moral: Our nation must stop tolerating injustice.
I was born when police brutality victim Rodney King asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” And here I am more than two decades later supporting similar victims like 18-year-old Mike Brown, bemoaned that King’s age-old plea was never fulfilled.
Perhaps this time, the zeal emanating from Ferguson can serve as counsel for America, encouraging us to collectively readopt the fundamentals that this nation was purportedly founded on: equality and justice for all.
Only then will we learn to stop accepting the unacceptable.
It’s time that we fulfill King’s last request for a non-discriminatory respect for all of humanity, and remind one another that everyone has the right to equal protection of the law. Everyone has the right to be safe in their communities and to be free from discrimination.
Everyone has the right to live, because all lives matter.
Mike Brown’s life mattered. Eric Garner’s life mattered. Oscar Grant, Troy Davis, and Trayvon Martin’s lives mattered.
Only when society acknowledges that black lives matter can we continue to chant “all lives matter.”