Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ~ Still Unfathomable This Was Necessary in My Lifetime

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ~ Still Unfathomable This Was Necessary in My Lifetime

Tonight my husband and I have been watching a documentary about the events of 1964, the difficulties of passing the Civil Rights Act, the horrors that transpired, the strength and courage of those who pressed for the passage of the legislation, and have discussed how fortunate we are that we were raised in Midwestern families that would have made this legislation unnecessary.  If every American had been raised as we were in Indiana and Michigan, there would have been no discrimination. We were raised to accept all persons as equal. We believed the language we read in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

From a distance of 50 years, I’ve gained a new appreciation and respect for the courage of Lyndon B. Johnson, who leveraged his political capital to ensure the legislation was passed. It was the right thing to do.  What Johnson did set a course for America that created opportunities for me as a woman; for any man or woman of any race, creed, national origin or color; for disabled people; or for any person with intelligence, drive, ability, or creativity to not just strive for but achieve a dream.

Whether one agrees with the political ideas or positions of Barack Obama, I celebrate that he not only was able to run for the Senate and ultimately the presidency, but that the people of our country by free choice elected him as president 150 years after the Civil War and less than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It is right and just that we have evolved so as a people and a nation that such a thing can happen.  I am grateful this happened in my lifetime.
It is a travesty that there are still those who judge others by race, religion, physical attributes, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or whatever.

There will always be small-minded people. However, the strides made in the last 50 years are encouraging. The attitudes of today’s young people are open. I am thankful that I live in a world where Angela Merkel can serve as chancellor of Germany, where Barack Obama can be elected president of the USA, where Stephen Hawking can achieve the respect of all mankind for his marvelous mind while his body betrays him, where “Modern Family” can be one of the most popular shows on network television, where the class conscious world of Robert Crawley, Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey, is past and ridiculed in blogs.

I celebrate the world I live in today – it is not utopia, but it is progress.

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