In 1963, we marched to protest segregation, the lack of voting rights, unemployment among and violence against Black Americans. Sixty years later, we are still fighting for equal rights and for our humanity.
Last weekend, as the nation marked the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, tragedy struck. A white gunman armed with an assault-style rifle and handgun took the lives of three Black Americans. The attack took place inside a Jacksonville, Florida, General Dollar store in a predominately Black neighborhood less than a mile from Edward Waters University, a small historically Black university.
There is an issue with race in America and the inability to hold people and institutions accountable for racist acts. While federal law enforcement has opened as civil rights investigation into this attack, we must use our voices to call these things out. We must have honest, candid conversations about racism, systemic inequities and its impact on Black communities. We must refuse to live in a country that continues to put communities of marginalized people at risk and in danger.
We, at the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, are deeply saddened by the unspeakable tragedy in Jacksonville, FL. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and the entire community affected. Incidents like this inflict immeasurable harm on Black communities making it crucial for us to champion policies and programs that safeguard our community and humanity.
The fight is far from over. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” Together in solidarity, and through collective action, we strive for a future that genuinely respects and protects the diversity of America.
Lenwood V. Long, Sr.
President & CEO, African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs