By Jerome Garrett, of Tomorrow Matters, Inc.
In every relay race that I have watched in my life there remains one fact that is irrefutable. That fact, simply put, is this: The man that starts the race is not the man that crosses the finish line. Truly, it is a very profound statement. The man that starts the race is not the man that crosses the finish line.
The successess and failures of black people in this country have never been a one man show. When we run together, we succeeded; when we do not; we fail. Its really that basic.
I have never been forced to ride on the back of a bus, I’ve never been forced to drink from a water fountain labeled “coloreds” nor have I been forced to attend a school system that was separate but not equal. I am very thankful for that. The runners of that leg of the race, Mary McLeod Bethune, Linda Brown, Ruby Bridges, Martin L King, Jr, and Medgar Evers, to name a few, ran long, ran hard and ran well.
We are now at the threshold of a new leg of the relay that we know as the Civil Rights Movement; a leg that I call the “renaissance of pride and unity”. And the leaders that have gotten us to this point, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Al Sharpton and the others I have not mentioned, have also run long, hard and well. But there comes a point in every leg of a relay race that the baton must be passed to the next runner.
There is no reason why Barack Obama should not have the support of every living black man and woman in this country….. Isn’t an opportunity such as the one before Barack Obama exactly what the Civil Rights Movement was about? Or was blood shed and life loss by people of all colors in vain?
To Jesse, Andrew and Al, I say. Thank you for a job well done. Thank you for your struggle so that I should struggle less. Much gratitude is due you; but the man that starts the race is not the man that crosses the finish line and this race isn’t over…. Pass the baton.