OPINION: Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma Reminds Us to Keep Moving Forward

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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

CULLMAN – Fifty years ago, people of color were subjected to abhorrent treatment in our state, and while it is still not something many want to remember, it is the only way to truly move forward. On March 7, thousands gathered at the bridge in Selma to do just that, not to celebrate, but to remember to keep fighting.

There have been many great strides made toward equality, certainly when comparing today with the events of 50 years ago. The time has not come to simply move on and forget the lessons and atrocities of the past, because in many ways, it is still our present.

Many like to think that things like racism, sexism and discrimination are no longer a part of our society; that we have come far enough in this state and country that it should not be a topic discussed. I ask, “How far have we really come?”

Stringent voter ID laws are merely a way to restrict the voting population, and injustice in our criminal system where racial profiling runs rampant has locked away a massive amount of black men; meanwhile laws and rhetoric are used every day to undermine women in society, and it wasn’t even until the year 2000 that interracial marriage was legalized in Alabama. Not to mention the current treatment of the LGBT minority groups.

While many do not want to look at the ugly faces of our country at present, it is essential to acknowledge our shortcomings if we are to ever achieve a brighter future. Things have taken positive shifts in the past five decades, but these awful mindsets and actions are not gone, they are simply more subtle and buried under a mountain of denial.

The first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is one, and then taking a stand to not allow others to simply sweep it under the rug.

Let us not shy away from the truth, but bask in it and understand it. Awareness and education are the only way to achieve true equality, for everyone to truly be free. We are either all equal or none of us are. The blood, sweat and tears of those who have fought for equality before us has brought us too far to turn back now.