Persistence in the Pursuit for Justice

Last Wednesday I heard a sermon about the importance of persistence. The preacher used the example of Gideon and his army to show how even when we are exhausted we must be persistent in our pursuit. While I was sitting in the pew trying to glean as much as I possibly could from this mid-day, mid-week sermon I couldn't help but think of Ferguson. It has now been 51 days since officer Darren Wilson executed Michael Brown, yet he is still a free person. Justice has been delayed in Ferguson, but the people have kept the pursuit going. A grand jury now has until January 2015 to decide whether to indict officer Wilson or not. Meanwhile, in the streets of Ferguson, the community continues to march; they continue to put pressure on city council members and other public officials; they continue to organize and strategize; despite the odds they – persist.

I have learned a lot in the past month and a half and I hope the rest of my generation has also learned a similar lesson. The fight for justice is not an easy fight. In this day and age where results come almost instantaneously one thing that never comes overnight is justice. What I heard in the sermon is true, "anything worth accomplishing happens over time and anything that comes quick does not last long." Any change that comes will take a sustained movement.

We have had several victories because of sustained movements like that of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, but the war against Black bodies in this nation wages on and is far from over. For 400 years our humanity has been denied, our dignity stripped, our very existence vilified, all while our culture is appropriated, repackaged and sold to the rest of the world. What would justice really even look like for Black people here in America?

Each generation is given a new fight. Another thing the preacher reminded the congregation of is that, "it is one thing for things to change or for things to get better, but it is another thing to be totally free. There is nothing like being totally liberated." Indeed things have changed since the days of chattel slavery. But we cannot afford to be lulled into a state of complacency after each victory, no matter how significant they are. We must persist.

On the outside one might think that an indictment of officer Darren Wilson would bring justice to the people of Ferguson and to the family of Michael Brown. That ship has long sailed. While it would be a major step in the right direction, the past two months have revealed the ugly reality in which the Black community in Ferguson is forced to live in.

"Problems persist because we knock them down but we don't finish the job."

The arrest and indictment of officer Wilson would be a knock down for sure but what would it take to score a knockout? We must get to the source of the problem and uproot it. The youth-led movements in Ferguson are doing exactly that by being persistent in their pursuit for justice and by not allowing themselves to be silenced by an intimidating and increasingly inept police force. They have played an integral role in exposing the over-policing that occurs in every community of color around the nation and the effects of militarizing police forces.

The cries of despair and shouts of distress from Ferguson still resonate across this country. Law enforcement continues to respond violently to peaceful protests. Distrust continues to grow between the Ferguson Police Department and the community. Michael Brown's memorial was even burned to ashes. Yet, while faint and exhausted, the people of Ferguson persist. They have a job to finish. In fact, we all have a job to finish and we all must play a role in the pursuit for justice.

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