I have been involved in diversity, inclusion and the vast inequities that exist among Black men, women and families. There have been many turning points in my personal life and career. While my upbringing was far from perfect, I reflect on the years gone by and the past year and half when folks from all backgrounds white, black, Hispanic, young and old, stood together and said enough is enough throughout the country all while being pepper sprayed and assaulted like in the 1960's. Many look at the Black Lives Matter movement as a racist endeavor. We do not fully understand what we have never experienced. I have seen colleagues and folks I thought I knew take a position and write words that were hurtful and, in my view, unnecessary. Yet, I still believe we are the greatest country in the world. We have the right to express our views and whether for me personally I agree, like them or not, it is a right, a privilege that we all get afforded. Some voices are heard louder than others.
In the 1960’s Dr. King, John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and so many others made sacrifices so we as Black people could achieve equality. They were threatened, jailed, beaten and attacked by dogs and sprayed with high pressure hoses to name a few. This was in the 1960’s. We still had not achieved a balance. My Great Grandfather educated himself prior to the 1940’s when things were much worse than the 1960’s. Leroy Mitchell refused to conform and instead paved the way through education during a time where it was not common. My Great Grandfather was a pioneer as he was the Dean of The Chicago Baptist Institute for five years. It is the sacrifices that my Great Grandfather made in the 1940’s and the sacrifices made by those that came after him in efforts to just give us basic human rights. Juneteenth is about progress and celebrating freedom and remembering but also recognizing those that made sacrifices so we can be equal. We have not gotten there yet and there is still much work to be done. However, I am writing today to put things in perspective. My Great Grandfather was a man of integrity and refused to conform to what society told and wanted him to be and this was in the 1940’s. think about that. Almost 20 years later you had Dr. King and so many others still fighting for the same. We cannot and should not let those sacrifices go to waste by us just standing by expecting someone else to do the work for us. We need to stand up, don’t conform, have the difficult conversations and live out your truth. Folks may not like what you have to say however, until we address unconscious bias, inequality in pay, disadvantaged for loans, profiling of us in stores and traffic stops, we are disrespecting the work and sacrifice of those that have been paving the way. We need to do our part and I know first hand that it is not easy but I refuse to give up or give in as I am set on the path of living my own truth this Juneteenth and everyday going forward. What will you do in support of Juneteenth?
Michelle and Martin Ervin have had the privilege of raising 11 amazing children. We will share #parenting advice, recipes and anything that has to do with our fantastic journey