This simple, yet extraordinarily heavy declaration has swept the nation in recent years. But what does such a simple declaration mean? More specifically, what does it say for our country that 150 years post-emancipation the descendants of slaves must continuously declare to the world that their lives matter? For the ACLU of Ohio, it says that there is much work to be done.
At the ACLU, when we hear the words Black Lives Matter, we hear an articulation of a brutal reality: the constitutionally guaranteed rights so many take for granted continue to be denied to some people because of their race. As such, when we hear the words Black Lives Matter, we hear a thunderous call to action.
One doesn’t have to reflect for very long on America’s history to understand why African Americans repeat these calls to action. Black Americans and allies have a long legacy of sacrificial advocacy embodied through generations of civil rights activism. While many gains have been made, racial disparities persist in virtually every metric of equality, justice, liberty, and overall wellbeing. So where does this leave us? It leaves us with a renewed, yet familiar, call to answer. One that the ACLU of Ohio is committed to answering.
The ACLU of Ohio strives to embody our pursuit of a just society where the Constitution applies to everyone, including those who have historically been denied their rights on the basis of race. From our ongoing work to reduce mass incarceration, to our commitment to decriminalizing poverty, we recognize that every issue we mobilize around possesses an undertone of racialized realities: Black Americans and other minorities continue to bear the brunt of bad criminal justice policies and repeated attempts to impede on individuals’ civil liberties.
So this Black history month, we invite you to go beyond merely reflecting on the accomplishments and accolades of Black people in America and the world. We invite you to join racial justice allies across the nation in making history. Let’s make right NOW the moment future generations learn about. NOW can be the moment in which America decided that the bold vision for a nation in which there is equal justice for all came to fruition. Let’s each of us declare that the phrase Black Lives Matter is more than a powerful proclamation ripe with hope and generational suffering. It will be an embodied reality in America.