I’m watching a documentary on the freedom riders and I’m speechless… Not because I can’t imagine the hatred, violence, or vitriol, but speechless because I can.

2 years ago, we marched from the site where Mike Brown was murdered in front of the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson to Governor Nixon’s mansion 133 miles away in Jefferson City Missouri.

I was there when the Klan and local residents came out and surrounded our support bus and started yelling slurs and insults at the riders onboard.

I was there when a group of rabid racists confronted the persons on the bus and faced off with then State President Mary Ratliff until the police came and forced them to move away.

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I was there when the schools covered all of their windows with paper so that they wouldn’t have to explain to the young white children in their community why these people were marching.

I was there when we learned that the Klan had a mole within our group and was reporting our movements and schedule to a large group that was amassing in a town along our route.

I was there when someone handed us a small town newspaper that contained the details of our movements, the time we’d reach the county line, and quoted the Sheriff saying that he would have no police presence there to supervise the march or provide us protection while we were in Gasconade County.

I was there when we crested that hill and saw that someone had lynched a deer, layed fried chicken and 40 oz bottles out in the street, nailed signs to the buildings and trees calling us niggers and telling us to go home.

I was there when folks were yelling and screaming and threatning to shoot us.

I was there and physically standing behind the bus when the back window of the bus was shot.

I was there when we were summoned to the Governor’s Mansion THAT NIGHT and told that the Governor had learned of a plan by the Klan to try and trap us in Gasconade County the next day where we would be unprotected by Law enforcement.

And I was and am here when This Country in This Time has skewed so far from its moral center, that the story was simply assimilated and dismissed, as though those people are not still here, and do not vote, and do not have children. As though the Klan, the bullet, the threats, and the open complicity of Law Enforcement in Gasconade County, were somehow benign, and treated as fiction, because they are a part of an America, a version of America, that we don’t wish to acknowledge.

We as a nation pat ourselves on the back and ‘celebrate’ how far we’ve come – but when we marched in the spirit of the freedom riders, and using the same strategy, we were were met with the same hatred, violence, and evil that we’ve always known.

In watching this documentary I was convicted by the fact that we’ve GOT to do a much better job of telling our own stories.

America’s original sin is still here. Gentrified… sanitized… dog-whistled… but still here.

As Steve Bannon, the white supremacist, prepares to take his new role as the Chief Strategist for the incoming President*, we’ve got to find and/or maintain our resolve to keep fighting.

*The “Absence of Conflict” is not Peace*

No one will tell our stories if we don’t. And when we don’t, we rob the younger generations of the much needed context and inspiration they’ll need to help them press on in the times when the battle seems insurmountable. (Which it sometimes will)

We are stronger than we know – always have been. Our strength will definintely be needed and tested in the days ahead…

Genni GenRedditt HudsonJonathan McKinneyCarmen WatkinsJahi IssaAndrew McFadyen KetchumTheEconomist DetroitJulia Calkins,Anthony WitherspoonJamiah Aniece Adams

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