A great shoutout is due EKU libraries leadership for its "From Postcards to Hashtags" initiative.
In essence, this initiative encompasses a year-long series of noted individuals providing insight into the issue of race along with some of their personal experiences.
Under the headline of "From Postcards to Hashtags," professionals will speak to the "Oppression of Black Lives through Conversation on Racism, Resistance, and Reconciliation."
The theme, "When EKU Came of Age," marked the University's Centennial in 2006. "From Postcards to Hashtags" is a further coming of age event toward greater understanding and appreciation of each other. Hopefully, the whole county will be drawn into this important dialogue impacting all of us.
I am so happy to see how well the entire the Eastern Kentucky University community is being represented in this historic undertaking. A broad inclusion of university entities, headed by President McFaddin and other senior staff, will include the views of faculty/staff, alumni and students. The partnership arrangement is certainly interesting as the coalition engages in open dialogue about the sensitive issue of race in our country.
Racism adversely effects all Americans and until we come to terms with this reality, progress toward meaningful solutions will continue to be slow and dogged.
What's striking about all of this is the maturity of my place over the past 60 years or so, reminding me of the first time I saw Richmond.
The Greyhound Bus Station on Water Street was my early indoctrination into the new culture I was about to become part of. Hearkening back to that scene, I recall not being allowed to eat a sandwich inside the building. But, after an eight-hour bus ride from Dayton, Ohio, and being an 18-year-old growing boy, I gladly accepted that hamburger through the allocated side window.
I vividly remember my very first black history course taught by Dr. Bert Mutersbaugh, a thoughtful, soft spoken gentleman whom I'll never forget. The year was 1963 and Dr. Mutersbaugh taught from a book entitled "From Plantation to Ghetto."
Progress has been made since then, as evidenced by the growing number of minorities in key positions of leadership in both faculty and staff composition at Eastern.
What does all of this have to do with anything?
Until our systems of day-to-day living reflect and include everyone's views and perspectives, true racial equality and fairness can't be realized.
Without fairness and equality, black lives won't ever seem to be as valued as other lives and the issue of mattering will continue to be troubling for society. Mattering, or more precisely, not mattering, has been allowed to fester and grow because we haven't met the issue head on, which is what "Postcards to Hashtags" is attempting to do.
Younger generations don't understand why change is so slow and want answers as to why things are as they are. They are not as tied or linked to the past as many of us are, and along with the AOCs (Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) in our midst, they want answers.
Unfortunately, their impatience turns to confrontation, and sometimes, violence. Let's be real, the future belongs to them, our youth and current generation of African Americans. We owe them a better shot, more and better opportunities in their pursuit of the American Dream they see their white contemporaries going after.
I view it as an obligation to upcoming generations to give them a steadier platform from which to launch. One Eastern slogan says, "You Can Get There From Here."
Let's make sure that everyone can believe that.
My father, God bless him, said to me, as I left home for Eastern, said, "Boy, get your books."
That was probably the best thing he could say to me at the time because that poor, uneducated man wouldn't have known a college credit if it said hello to him!
But, his son got his books, came to know a college credit, or two, and now encourages younger African Americans to forge on as we fight, NOT PHYSICALLY, mind you, for a more evenly balanced playing field.