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It’s time we listen to words of Frederick Douglass

Despite what you may have heard, abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass died in 1895. Still, the racial America Douglass exhorted to live up to its ideals languishes, particularly though the lens of a Rochester, NY speech he gave 167 years ago.

“Do you mean, citizens, to mock me?” he asked in a speech titled, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” “What have I, or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?”

All these years later, the answer remains, “no.” This holiday, let’s depart from what writer Ta-Nehisi Coates called “fair weather patriotism” — celebrating achievement while ignoring problems — and create an America where African-Americans aren’t awkwardly included, but truly belong. An America of social and economic parity.

Hardly anyone expected punishment, for example, for the Tonganoxie officers who last year handcuffed Karle Robinson and held him at gunpoint for moving into his own home. The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training’s (KS·CPOST) didn’t disappoint.

CPOST did not punish the officers, and issued Robinson, a black Marine veteran, a three-sentence letter announcing the closing of the case. There was no explanation.

Consider how Phoenix police terrorized those young parents and their two toddlers over a suspected shoplifting incident. The parents’ 4-year-old is still having nightmares and wetting the bed. Consider the spate of white people calling the police on black people doing little more than breathing.

Read more at The Topeka Capital-Journal

Mark E. McCormick
Follow Mark E. McCormick:
I'm a New York Times best-selling author with 20 years of journalism experience as a reporter, editor and columnist. I serve as a trustee at The University of Kansas' (my alma mater) school of journalism and I've been a Professional in Residence at the University of Oklahoma. I'm featured in the beat reporting chapter of the journalism textbook, "Writing and Reporting News, A Coaching Method." I've won more than 20 industry and community awards including four Gold Medals from the Kansas City Press Club. I'm featured in NFL Films' "Barry Sanders: A Football Life" and also featured in 'Roots and Branches: Preserving the Legacy of Gordon Parks' a documentary about WSU's quest to acquire the collected works of the trailblazing photographer, writer, filmmaker and native Kansan. Most recently I was featured in the documentary on journalist and statesman William Allen White entitled, "William Allen White: What's the Matter With Kansas?" In 2015, I co-authored "African Americans of Wichita" with Arcadia publishing and in 2017, published "Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings: Dispatches From Kansas" with Blue Cedar Press. I'm also a recent member of the Association of African American Museums' board of directors where I served as communications committee chair. I joined the Alpha Nu Boule chapter of Sigma Pi Phi in 2004.

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