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Real on civil rights progress
Professor Emeritus Michael Real has penned the feature opinion-editorial in the Saturday Vancouver Sun, reflecting on his time in the United States civil rights movement, and his thoughts on present activism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here is an excerpt:
I had the good fortune to work in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. As I look at what is happening now in America and beyond, it forcefully brings back to me some of the huge frustrations and problems, as well as the gratifying progress that over time made it all worthwhile. Are there lessons for today that we can take from those experiences?
First, making progress may not be as obvious as the setbacks and defeats. But the great steps forward make everything else bearable and must be relished. The obvious example for me is the moment in August 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. I was there on the Washington Mall to hear it in person. It was incredibly moving and has remained an inspiration to me through the 57 years since.
There is no such moment yet in the current struggles, but another lesson from that period is the patience that real change requires. Many dedicated people struggled for more than a decade for voting rights, equal educational opportunities, full employment, fair housing, and so much more. The later part of the 1960s was complicated by America’s disastrous war in Vietnam that, much like the coronavirus, seemed to multiply the frustrations and setbacks in civil rights.
This story appeared in the Vancouver Sun