In these contemporary times, we’re witnessing basic rights for our LGBTQ allies being redacted, landmark legislation(s) that granted African Americans the right to vote being tampered-with, and women in the workforce still suffering from income inequality—earning 70 cents for every dollar earned by men. Not to mention, the growing surge of gentrification in minority communities and the expunging of labor movements….. happening all across the country, right now.
Yes, for those new-wave freedom fighters and passionate majority—motivated by justice and freedom, we have a heavy task on our hands. But, we mustn’t stop, now. We need to press forward, organize, strategize, and stand together….to defeat ignorance, bigotry and indifference wherever it lodges.
Fortunately, not too long ago, I have found three people that has inspired me to keep pressing forward. I am willing to share their story with you….hoping that they will inspire, motivate and sustain you as well.
Henry David Thoreau
I’ve just started reading about this fascinating American thinker…in a book titled “Henry David Thoreau,”and what I’ve been learning, so far, has blown my mind.
Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, at a time when people had strong revolutionary ideals. People, during that time were very religious and majority of them participated in slavery. Henry, however, did not believe in slavery nor religion. He Supported people like John Brown, who was a avid abolitionist, and used his bully-pulpit to invoke homilies that both condemned and disparaged the institution of slavery.
He considered himself to be a majority of things, such as, a moralist, naturalist, idealist and transcendentalist. He didn’t believe in paying taxes—in fact, he never paid his taxes. A gentlemen by the name Emerson describe him further; ” He was bred to no profession; he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the state; he ate no flesh; he drank no wine; he never knew the use of tobacco; and, though a naturalist, he used neither trap nor gun…..bachelor of thought and nature….attorney of indigenous plants.”
In every shape of the word, and in the context of his environment, Henry was divergent and didn’t fit nicely in the arbitrary standards of his time. In other words, and how I’ve come to understand Henry as, is, that, he was insanely ahead of his time. Henry’s thinking and worldly views reflects that of the twenty-first century. Today, Henry would be considered a leftist, radical, progressive or a revolutionary. I see him hanging out with people like Tim Wise, Dr. Cornel West and Maya Angelou.
Naturally, because of his radical views at the time, many of his friends thought of him as a weirdo and social-outcast. Seeing that Henry wanted nothing to do with the world and it’s many anachronisms, one of his friends said this about him; “I see nothing for you in this earth but that field….; go out upon that, build yourself a hut, and there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive.”
Many of us, today would have reacted negatively to that verbal assault…..but not Henry. He knew he was different—and had long come to accept that. Rather, he spoke honestly about his peculiar ways and focused on what he called ” the main chance,” without regard to appearance and manners. And that, however others might find his manner of living defective in contrast with theirs, he should keep looking ahead and beyond, without a special or undue concern of immediate consequences.
Zach Anner, according to a recent interview with “The Public;” a local Buffalo Newspaper, dropped out of High School but was still able to build a successful career for himself. He started making videos on Youtube, which then propelled him into the national spotlight….winning an Oprah Winfrey show competition to start his own show in 2011. He recently wrote a book entitled “If at birth you don’t succeed,” and, he’s a comic and TV host.
Would you believe that Zach Anner did all of that while suffering from Cerebral Palsy, a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture?
When asked this question,”You find out later in life that everyone has a complicated relationship with their body, right?,” Zach Anner gave a response that blew my mind. He said, ” Yeah, everyone does. That’s the thing that people don’t get when they see the disability. Our struggles, if you don’t like the way you look for some reason, or you struggle with confidence, all those struggles are the same. Although, mine are more apparent, we all go through that kind of stuff. In a way, I’m lucky that mine are more on the surface. People know what I have to deal with, and what I try to say in the book [ if at birth you don’t succeed.], is that we’re all in this together, we all go through the same things, so why don’t we talk about it a lot more and be proud of our own journey’s.”
Zach Anner, a Kenmore Native…..and despite his disability, a stern optimist, just proved that you don’t have to be able-bodied with a college degree or born with a golden-spoon your mouth in order to be successful. His story shatters society’s axioms of what success is supposed to look like.
Ida Keeling is a 100-year-old African American women who just won’t stop running. She’s a reigning national champion—holding a record, 29.86 seconds for the 60-meter dash for American women ages 95 to 99—and a former civil rights activist.
Having suffered through the Great Depression—seeing her dad peddling fruits and vegetables from a pushcart for living—and loosing her husband to a heart attack, then many years later, received phone calls about her two sons who both had drug problems, that one of them had been hanged, and other, beaten to death with a baseball bat, Ida Keeling has never looked back.
” I learned to stand on my own two feet during the Depression, ” she said. ” It taught you to do what you had to do without anyone doing it for you.”
In the 1960’s when the civil rights movement was taking shape, Ida Keeling became an active demonstrator, shuttling her children to Malcolm X speeches and boarded a predawn bus for the 1963 March on Washington.
Running gives Ida Keeling a sense of serenity and the strength to keep pressing forward. ” I never want to go backwards,” she said. ” I’m a forward type of person.” Although, she has developed arthritis and occasionally relies on a cane while walking, Ida Keeling continues to run….almost every day.
Sources; New York Times, The public, and book;”Henry David Thoreau”
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