I was not familiar with Patricia Stephens Due until I recently stumbled across an old interview with her on NPR. Growing up, most of what I learned about the Civil Rights Movement was about the work of Dr. King and the March on Washington. In school I didn’t learn a lot about the everyday women who helped the movement that changed our country and resonated among Africans around the world.
A few days ago, an old friend from London came to New York for a visit. Cora’s trip was brief, but we managed to sneak in a dinner and catch up since our last lunch date 4 years ago. After chatting about the usual things–school, family, love–I asked her to fill me in on her experiences with the London Riots that swept the country for 4 days last August. She had much to say, but one thing stood out:
It was a really beautiful thing. This guy was shot by the police, and I mean, I know here in the US that type of thing happens all the time, it’s common. But in London, it started something.
I sat there quietly listening to the rest of her description of the riots, but I couldn’t move past her statement that state-sanctioned violence toward a person of color “is common” in the United States. Unfortunately she was right, and the past year has done nothing to suggest that this is changing.
On a recent, very brief trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, I was not surprised to experience the high quality of respect given to the memory of Bob Marley. Anything less would have been disappointing. However, as a lifetime follower of Marley, this trip highlighted a pattern much of the world is guilty of—pigeonholing Bob Marley as nothing more than a reggae artist and—thus losing sight of his revolutionary spirit.