The struggle against injustice is not over. On September 2, 2013, Rep. John Lewis spoke to fast food strikers: “Sometime you have to find a way to get in the way. Sometimes you have to use your marching feet and sometimes you have to make a little noise. Sometime you have to find a way to make a way out of no way. Sometime you have to find a way to get in the way. I know some of your coworkers may be a little afraid. But you must tell them, don’t be afraid. Be of good courage.”
Civil rights leader and activist Rep. John Lewis’s words are powerful and true. As a black man in this country, I not only have to get in the way, but I must also realize that I am in the way. I have personally been the victim of racial profiling, police harassment, and racial stereotyping that has at times, taken me to rage. During my work with Restoration 2000, a men’s group in Albany Georgia that was committed to racial equality, I received hate mail and racial threats. All of this has only worked to strengthen my resolve. I am in the way because my son’s and grandson’s need me to be. I am in the way because my community and country need me to be.
First, because I am in the way, I am not afraid to use my voice to speak against injustices. Whether it is in the streets in protest, the words of an article in the newspaper, or the words of a sermon in church, I will continue to speak out against injustice and to make a demand for justice. No longer do we simply cry for justice, but in this day and time, we must demand it! We demand justice for the weeping mothers and widows. We demand it for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, and the countless unnamed others. We must demand justice because Dr. King said it best, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Secondly, because I am in the way, I will use my voice at the polls to make a way out of no way. Our country’s judicial system is broken. When eye-witness testimony and clear cut video evidence is not enough for a grand jury to indict any white police officer accused of killing a black man of any age, we must use our power to abolish that racially biased antiquated system. Political power is power, and it must be used in all cases of injustices. No longer can blacks afford to be loud in protest, but silent at the polls. We need them both to enact lasting change.
Finally, because I am in the way, I must use my voice at home to teach my children to be of good courage. I will use it to teach my son and grandsons’ to be men of integrity, standard, character and distinction. I bless them with my words and my presence, hands and heart, back and brain. I give my children and grandchildren the best of me so they can be better.
It is good to be in the way. Because of it, I have a platform to tell our young men that they must never be a menace to society because they too are in the way. They must never be afraid or feared, voiceless or violent, because this country continues to need black men they can look up to. I declare myself to be such a man, and I will not give up, give out, or give in. I am not afraid to speak, march, stand, write or vote against injustices because like Rep. John Lewis, I have found a way to get in the way.
Timothy Houston is an author, minister, and motivational speaker who is committed to guiding positive life changes in families and communities. For copies of his book, questions, comments or more information, go to www.tlhouston.com.