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  • Writer's pictureJoseph lewis

The America I See

The America I see is … Crispus Attucks standing with his fellow Americans against the British Redcoats in Boston at the beginning of the American Revolution and giving his life for the cause of liberty, Mumbet Freeman declaring her freedom before the Massachusetts Supreme Court and putting an end to slavery there, Harriet Tubman returning to help free others, at the risk of losing the freedom she had struggled so hard to gain for herself, Abraham Lincoln seeking to heal the nation “with malice toward none, with charity toward all” after a Civil War in which hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives so that others could be free, Booker T. Washington born into slavery and ultimately advising multiple presidents of the United States, Father Bernard Quinn establishing a church community in Brooklyn, New York, and an orphanage he had to rebuild twice after the Ku Klux Klan kept burning it down, Lewis Latimer, whose parents escaped slavery, designing and inventing improvements for the incandescent lightbulb, the telephone, and a host of other patents, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams opening the first interracial hospital in the United States and ultimately becoming one of the first physicians to perform open-heart surgery, Willa Brown helping train the Tuskegee Airmen who fought so bravely and honorably during World War II, Dr. Charles Drew researching and developing techniques for blood transfusions, storage of plasma, and the creation of blood banks that led to the saving of thousands of lives during World War II and beyond, while having to protest against the practice and policy of racial segregation in the donation of blood, Branch Rickey watching Jackie Robinson sign a contract to play baseball in the Major Leagues, Rosa Parks refusing to relinquish her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth Eckford walking bravely through a hostile crowd trying to prevent her from entering recently integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writing a letter from a Birmingham jail calling for nonviolent activism in the struggle against racial injustice and inequality, Amelia Boynton Robinson, after helping lead thousands during the Selma to Montgomery marches, being invited as a guest of honor to the White House to witness President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson working tirelessly and without fanfare as mathematicians for NASA in helping lead the United States into space and eventually to the moon, Over a quarter of a million Americans peacefully marching on Washington to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak of his dream – a dream he described as deeply rooted in the American dream, that one day his children will live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, Thurgood Marshall being named a justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, Barack Obama being sworn in as president of the United States, Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful” in a tribute to the country he loved, and referred to by President Barack Obama as “the most patriotic piece of music ever performed,” Thousands of Americans peacefully marching in hundreds of cities and towns throughout the nation demanding that justice be served for the brutal treatment and murder of a fellow American - George Floyd. Let their voices be heard so that what happened in the streets of Minneapolis that day may never happen again.

The words to “America the Beautiful” remind us that there is much that is good about our country, while recognizing the need for “God (to) mend thine every flaw.” Although our country is far from perfect - it is our country. We must work together if we want to continue to make it better. We owe it to these and so many others who have gone before us and have shown us the way.

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