Protecting our constitutional rights is the reason for protest given by many different groups today, and for different reasons, but the idea of freedom and rights is strong in all of us, no matter who we are.

Close your eyes and imagine different groups saying that you are not entitled to the rights given to everyone else. They despise you and call you every derogatory name in the book, and they are condescending toward you like you are stupid, while others tell you that you aren’t even human.

To gain their rights as human beings, African Americans, that marched during the civil rights movement, had the courage to stand up against police trying to beat them to death, dogs attacking them, fire hoses trained at them, angry mobs in hooded white robes trying to hang them, bombs placed in their churches, arrests, and murderers of their friends not being convicted and freed from any wrongdoing. Standing against this abuse and terror, these brave souls marched for their civil rights and they lived all of this, and more.

Imagine what it would be like if you were treated this way while protesting for your rights today.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial], 08/28/1963, National Archives: 542010.
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial], 08/28/1963, National Archives: 542010.
Regarding constitutional rights, being pulled over on a traffic stop should not be a deadly prospect, but it seems some do not empathize with those that have a desperate fear of losing their life or that of their loved ones every time one happens. It is not imagined. It is real, and asking for consideration of the difficulties suffered by African Americans seems reasonable when all of the evidence is evaluated, but while agreeing that a problem exists with law enforcement and African Americans, this does not equate attacking our nation’s law enforcement officers at the same time, but only an acknowledgement that something needs to be done to fix the problem.

Can you imagine the fear that so many have when they are pulled over for a traffic stop? What if harm were to happen to you, your spouse, or another in your family, and would you protest to those that were turning a blind eye to the problem that you saw as a blatant disregard of your constitutional rights? Protecting our families is something that we all share, so empathizing how you would feel if this were happening to you is an important first step for finding understanding.

This mutual understanding is crucial, and Martin Luther King understood this as well when he stated in his ‘I have a dream’ civil rights speech, regarding a coming together of all Americans:

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Let’s hope we never forget his words. They are worth remembering.

—A southern gentleman that dreams of the solid rock of brotherhood with all.

Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.

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