Selma's Lesson and Challenge

Jesse Jackson | 3/4/2015, 7:31 p.m. | Updated on 3/4/2015, 7:31 p.m.
This week, the nation will mark the 50th Anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday, and the march from Selma to Montgomery ...
Rev. Jesse Jackson

Equal justice remains an unfulfilled promise. As shown in Ferguson and New York and elsewhere, young black and Hispanic men are at risk in a criminal justice system that remains deeply biased against them. And the goal of equal opportunity for all, Dr. King's final struggle for economic justice, grows more distant in an economy scarred by extreme inequality and a declining middle class.

It is fitting that the commemoration of Selma will be bipartisan. Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement transformed the South and made America better. But that bipartisan spirit must not be limited to merely looking out of the rear view mirror; it must also look out the windshield and address the obstacles of the present.

Dr. King taught us that "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." But he knew that bend was not inevitable. It occurred because people got tired of being tired, and stood up to reclaim the promise of "liberty and justice for all." What Selma reminds us is that justice isn't handed down by the powerful. It isn't the gift of the mighty. Justice is forged by the constant struggle of ordinary heroes: citizens who decide to make history, not merely commemorate it. And, surely, we need a new generation of citizens to march again.

You can write to the Rev. Jesse Jackson in care of this newspaper or by email at jjackson@rainbowpush.org. Follow him on Twitter @RevJJackson.

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