2015-01-17 / Editorial

‘We cannot forget the past, if so we have no future’

To the editor:

On Nov. 2, 1983, President Ronald Regan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights icon.

It was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986.

During the month of January, his birthday month, we honor Dr. King with our breakfasts, banquets, worship services, parades, replaying and listening to his speeches, and many other activities.

This year, I would suggest that all citizens, regardless of ethnicity — black, white, Indian, Latinos, Jews, Gentiles, male, female, young and old — honor him by going to see the movie Selma.

This movie brings to life again what it was like on that memorable Sunday, when the march from Selma to Montgomery and the efforts of Dr. King and many others culminated in the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

It is a reminder that Selma could have been a city in any of the southern states, including North Carolina.

After seeing the movie, I concluded that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

In light of the voting, or lack of, that has taken place in our recent elections — nationally, statewide and locally — and the all-out effort to change the Voting Rights Act by any means necessary, we need to understand that the right to vote is a privilege and should be exercised at every opportunity. Far too many people lost their lives for this privilege.

Some critics have said that the movie does not depict entirely what happened during that fateful time in history and that it is filled with historical inaccuracies; however, it is not fictional. It happened, lest we forget.

This movie can serve as an eye opener to this present generation, showing you that you didn’t get where you are on your own.

Many lives of all races were lost so that today we can go out and vote without fearing for our lives.

As a product and participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s — a part of my life that I make no apologies for to anyone — I don’t take it lightly and feel it is imperative for this generation to realize that they are standing on the shoulders of people of all races who dared to even die for the cause.

Now, as citizens of this land of the free and home of the brave, you can freely exercise your right to vote.

Selma lets us know what it was like in the 1960s to have a desire to vote and do all of the right things to become qualified, and still hear the words, “No. You cannot vote.”

It breaks my heart today when people are encouraged to vote and the statement is made, “My vote doesn’t count,” or, “They are going to do what they want to anyway.”

I urge you to see this movie. It is a mind changing and attitudinal adjustment kind of movie.

There is so much power in this little four letter word — vote — that it can change the world. All we have to do is do it.

I do promise you that when you see the movie Selma your thoughts about history during this time will never, ever be the same.

We cannot forget the past, if so we have no future. Go see the movie.

MARGARET P. JONES
Roxboro

Return to top