Our Quote of the Week marks the seventh anniversary of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Although spoken 64 years ago, Sargent Shriver's words remind us of one of Black Lives Matter's fundamental messages: that we cannot rest until we achieve equal justice and protection for our African American friends.
In a speech entitled "Exploring Future of Racial Harmony -- Cultural Level", Sargent Shriver challenged his audience to confront their own prejudices and to consider how injustice has affected Black Americans and other people of color. At the time, Shriver was becoming more and more active in the civil rights movement, working as the head of the boards of Chicago Public Schools and the Catholic Interracial Council. He was operating during a time when unjust laws such as segregation were limiting the freedoms of Black Americans in unconscionable ways. In the speech, he observed:
"It is common knowledge that segregated persons must pay HIGHER PRICES for the basic essentials of life, such as living quarters, and the food they eat. They are admitted only to MENIAL jobs, and receive LESS PAY. The economic cost of segregation is high. There is frequent DUPLICATION of school and hospital facilities. DISEASE and CRIME rates are the highest in such segregated over-crowded slum areas. POLICE and FIRE protection costs rise. The ENTIRE CITIZENRY suffers."
We have come a long way since 1956. Segregation is no longer legal, and legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 dismantled many of the discriminatory laws and practices of the time. And yet, we have not shaken free of the long legacy of discrimination and violence that has been with us since the era of slavery. In truth, many of the struggles Sargent Shriver describes above are still all too real in too many communities across the United States.
As we all continue to deal with the public health and economic impact of COVID-19, we are asking our community, especially our White friends, to pay particular attention to stories about the ways in which our collective challenges disproportionately affect our African Americans friends. We are pleased to bring some of those stories in our new Racial Justice series. We hope you'll have a look at that, and search out other sources, as well.