"My Reflections of Years Gone By"
--Charles Person

Thirty years ago, I made an investment in the future of the Afro- American community. I spent time in the Fulton County Jail. I spent several days in solitary confinement for "singing too loud." I walked hundreds of miles on the picket lines and attended every march, every mass meeting, and every sit-in conducted by the students. I was an original "Freedom Rider." I was attacked and beaten by the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama; and I walked among the giants of the Civil Rights Movement and I felt at home. The lumps and bruises on my head are a daily reminder of my commitment and my obligations. I may not always do the right thing or say the right thing, but I never forget that our struggle continues.

The hopes and dreams I once shared with the students of the Atlanta University Center remain. We talked for hours and hours about life in a desegregated society. We talked about good jobs with good wages; black policemen and firemen for our communities, and black professionals with offices in downtown Atlanta. We talked about traveling throughout the country without being intimidated; about electing Afro-American public officials, judges and councilpersons. We eagerly fought for the right to enjoy the freedoms and responsibilities granted to all Americans. Of all the times we spent together, we never discussed these things:

* The impact of alcohol and crack-cocaine on the Afro-American family
* The consequences of Teenage Pregnancy
* AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
* Illiteracy
* Homelessness
* Black on Black crime
* The decline of the Afro-American Church
* Corrupt and apathetic Afro-American politicians
* The welfare state
* Fatherless homes

It seems as though the leaders of the Eighties have mismanaged my investment and the investment of millions of Afro-Americans. No one can accurately explain how a people or a movement can fall from the heights of the Sixties to the lows of the Nineties.

Life in America today is not what I prayed for. It is not what I worked for and not what I fought for. I cannot explain these events nor do I understand them. I only wish I had the words to tell my children so they may understand and not blame me for all that is wrong in our world today.

Copyright © 2001, Charles Person

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