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Selfies and the New Civil Rights Movement

TIM GOLER | 9/6/2013, 12:34 p.m.

By TIM GOLER

The 50th anniversary of the March in Washington has allowed the community to pause and reflect upon the progress made or not made by the Civil Rights Movement over the years. In my opinion, it is clear that education remains the root of all positive change for the urban community.

It is also clear the only way to really build up or tear down a community is to strengthen or weaken the community’s educational delivery system. Education is a science of the mind. The whole purpose of education is to shape the students’ thinking and sense of identity. I believe that the greatest travesty of the Civil Rights Movement was its failure to galvanize its agenda around the educational imperative that was expressed in the desegregation efforts of the NAACP.

Most folk today, particularly those we have deemed as our leaders, have either forgotten or become complacent when it comes to the topic of education. Unlike our great leaders of ‘yester year’they do not understand how to nurture and sustain meaningful change.

Today’s leadership may shy away from education because they feel it is too big of a nut to crack. But steady is the turtle who takes their time to finish the race. Social change is not about the hare’s sprint to the finish line but about those who commit to going the distance.

The community can ill-afford leaders who continuously lose focus, get off task, take on new issues outside of their expertise and finish little. In this inconsistent approach, the fundamental issue – improved educational opportunity – languishes unaddressed in a growing sea of social apathy while each succeeding generation belts out a resounding SOS!

The root cause of most discrimination is ignorance that can best be addressed through improved education. It is not surprising that education, the world over, is considered as the only true path to freedom and lasting change.

True leaders see themselves as social servants and do not seek accolades from others because of the service they provide. The reason they are viewed as leaders is because most folk will “acknowledge” a problem but never “act” on doing “anything” about it.

True leaders are more concerned with addressing the needed changes for the good of the community than with titles bestowed upon them by others. In my opinion, that is the essence of a true leader. True leaders don’t seek the title... the baton... they just do. Unlike most ‘selfies’ today, who claim the tile, without earning it nor having any idea of what true leadership means.

To me, the potential for our people to enjoy a better future depends upon the extent that our leaders can maintain a consistent focus on the importance of strengthening our educational system for our children. Collectively, we must be passionate about the belief that ‘when you learn better, you live better and when you live better, you love better and when you love better our families and community benefit.’

We all have the innate ability and power to become the next Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B Dubois, or Fannie Lou Hamer of our generation. Every student deserves to be inspired through reading and learning about the great achievements and opinions of past and present true leaders. As Malcolm X once said, “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.” Let our leadership legacy be the deeds that will be left for our future leaders to discover in their ongoing research efforts to bring POSITIVE change totheir community.

This is imperative because we know this mantra will not end with this generation. The world is toosinful for this to be true. However, we do know that darkness does notrule out darkness. Only light can do that.

And through education - our students, like Dubois, Dr. King and many other legends - are holding the torch to ensure the presence of the lightwill help future generations find their way in the dark.

Timothy Goler has a Bachelor in Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education from Norfolk State University, a Masters of Urban Planning, Design and Development, from Cleveland State University and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University. He is the founder and CEO of a National Model for Urban Education called the HBCU Preparatory Schools Network, which is a system of primary and secondary schools modeled after Historically Black Colleges and Universities www.HBCUprepschools.org, as well as, the co-founder of PolicyBridge, a public policy institute based in Cleveland, Ohio. www.policy-bridge.org