Letter: Stand with local activists in bid to end gun violence
On behalf of the Four Freedoms Coalition Executive Committee, let me commend The Berkshire Eagle for the upcoming panel Wednesday on "Gun Violence, School Shootings and Solutions."
The breadth and depth of your presenting panel warrants our respect. The shared wisdom of both students and educators from the public and private sectors is essential. The inclusion of those with firearms training will help keep the conversation grounded in facts. And the vigorous participation of the recent student walk-out organizers — Bryanna McKearney, Abby Moody and Makailey Cookis — will force us to see the human faces of our children that we have all too often sacrificed to the gun lobby.
The Four Freedoms Coalition is proud to stand with our rising local activists. With hundreds of thousands of other Americans who support common sense gun control, we encourage all people of good will to honor Wednesday's school walkout — and then join the Eagle's forum. America is ready to change: the carnage in Florida became our tipping point compelling youth to call us into a revival of our collective conscience.
As we renew a more perfect union, however, let us take time to hear the voices of other young activists, too. For the past five years, hundreds of African American youth have put their lives on the live in the Black Lives Matter movement. Their commitment and insights into our shared safety are as vital to making America great again as those who will gather on Wednesday. In fact, this moment has the potential to bring all people — black, white, Latino, Asian and First Nations — together for the common good.
Oprah Winfrey recently said that the young students in Florida "reminded her of the Freedom Riders of the '60s who cried `We've had enough and our voices shall be heard!'" Dahleen Glanton, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, added the historical context necessary to complete Ms. Winfrey's comment: "The Freedom Riders who went to Mississippi during the civil rights movement to register blacks to vote, included lots of white students from the North whose rights never had been violated. But they fought on behalf of African-Americans in the South anyway, because they understood that our country could not thrive with one set of protections for one race and another set of rules for another."
Now is our time to go and do likewise: "deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome someday."
The Rev. Dr. James Lumsden,
The author writes for the Four Freedoms Executive Committee.
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