Breaking Racial Barriers
(Spoken at Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tennessee on March 8, 2005, during their cultural awareness program)
by Trennie L. Williams, Min., PhDc
Having opportunities to speak among youth is a privilege to encourage rights in exchange for the wrongs. There have been plenty of moments for me to share the Good News to younger generation, including a moment to speak with students who filled the auditorium at Ridgeway High School over 10 years ago on March 8, 2005.
Breaking racial barriers continues to be a challenging mechanism that plagues society. As we celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, each person should identify ways to exhibit unity on earth every day.
There are a number of activities that promote appreciation of cultures. So many nationalities. So many people playing significant roles in cultures that make us who we are. So many differences, yet mostly alike.
I need your help in breaking racial barriers. How Can You Help Break Down Racial Barriers? I have one word broken into five parts. The word is: UNITY.
U-UNDERSTAND others. (In all your getting, get understanding.)
N-be NICE to others. (Treat others as you would have them treat you. I have a copy of Norman Rockwell’s painting “Do Unto Others” in the entry way to my home. It reads “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)
I-INTERCEDE the negative with postive action. (You cannot overcome evil with evil. You overcome evil with good.)
T-TOGETHERNESS. Work together instead of selfishly. (No person has achieved success alone. There always are others involved in the process along the way.)
Y-YOU are the key to the breakthrough. (You have to be responsible for you…to UNDERSTAND others, be NICE, INTERCEDE the negative with positive action, and being YOU who make a difference.)
Racial barriers have caused much affliction throughout history. More than three centuries of African slave trades from the 1600s through the 1800s. The holocaust of Jews in the early 1900s. American segregation laws that continued until a few decades ago. The Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany until about 25 years ago. South African apartheid laws uplifted in mid-1990s. Young African Americans have used Black Lives Matter as a means to express their distress due to inequalities and social injustices. Suburban citizens across the U.S. used the voting process, going to the polls in record numbers during the 2016 presidential election to reduce their frustrations in a fragile political institution.
Those are times past and gone, which you should learn from. Today is a new day. Use the struggles of yesterday to springboard UNITY of today. Now is the time for you to make a difference. This is the moment where you can break down the partitions that separate you for wrong racial reasons.
There are a number of ways to begin erasing racial barriers within our hearts, souls and minds, Visit the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis, and participate in the many cultural festivals around town. It would help us appreciate diversity while promoting unity in our community.