Give their lives meaning with increased devotion to our freedom

Voice of the People by James J. Devine

February 4 marks 101 years since the birth of the woman who is called “the first lady of civil rights” but in a very real sense, Rosa Parks was not born in 1913, but made on December 1, 1955.

Invested with the American spirit, became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation on purpose, and not by accident.

Rosa Parks refused to obey Alabama bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat to a white passenger and thus began the Montgomery Bus Boycott. At the time of her act of defiance, Rosa Parks was secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP. She had attended a training school for workers’ rights and racial equality activists. She intentionally set out to end segregation and her courage helped achieve progress at a cost.

The civil rights activist’s birthday on February 4 should be commemorated not with a day off work, but by our personal action to challenge society to be better. Americans have always advanced because we fought to make life better and today’s income inequality and growing political corruption demand action to restore the American Dream.

I am not asking you to remember Rosa Parks and those who struggled with her. I want to demand that you give their lives meaning by engaging in a new civil rights movement. This movement must demand jobs and freedom, an end to war, stopping government’s abuse of power and its failure to defend equality and justice for all.

As Abraham Lincoln, said 150 years ago: “It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Harriet Tubman is best-known for making 19 trips to rescue more than 300 slaves using the network known as the Underground Railroad, but she was active in the women’s suffrage movement until the end of her life. Escape from slavery and voting are comparable to taking more aggressive political action, because if you do not get involved, contribute and participate, then you may not be truly free.

Civil War veterans and civil rights martyrs like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr. died for a cause that remains very much alive. Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman made the choice to take action, they prepared for it and their heroism is inspiring.

You need not sacrifice your life or go to jail, but giving your time, money and vote may be enough to fulfill the promise of liberty and prosperity. We cannot ignore the fierce urgency of now because while many things have changed we face new challenges from unending war abroad and deteriorating liberty at home.

Surveillance erodes our privacy. Voter suppression laws deprive us. Civil division and political corruption have prevented citizens from curing the problems while our middle class have been robbed of trillions of dollars and our opportunity to succeed. This is your chance to save America from greed, ignorance, apathy and fear.

Join me by taking increased devotion to the cause of freedom by visiting my website or mailing a check payable to Democrats for Change to PO Box 1061; Rahway, NJ 07065-1061 or calling me at 732-340-1980 to find out how else you can do your part to help advance equality, justice and the American Way.

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