Fifty years ago, thousands of young people organized the Mississippi Summer Project, a historic attempt to register black voters in Mississippi, which, at the time, had the lowest black registration rate in the country. Some civil rights workers were killed. Hundreds were beaten. But Freedom Summer, as it’s now known, transformed the national narrative surrounding civil rights by ushering in a new wave of laws that would guarantee equality at the ballot box.
Today, America is at another crossroads in civil rights. People of color represent two-thirds of our incarcerated population. Gun homicide is the leading cause of death among black teenagers. Schools are again re-segregating. Race is still a roadblock in America. We face a stalled Congress, unable to protect our founding values that we are all created equal. And we sit in the looming shadow of a Supreme Court, whose blind eye toward race is equally blind to our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as shown from recent decisions limiting contraception coverage, hurting public employee unions, rolling back voting rights, and increasing the influence of big money in politics.
We, the millennial generation, cannot be “colorblind.” We must choose the path of change.