No doubt the millennial leaders of today — young groups of activists who credit their combined effort for making the nation pay attention to disenfranchisement, racism, and state violence in the past year — are leading us into a new era of Black History. Folks like Deray Mckesson are doing their part to make sure that our history changes for the better.For that we’re thankful. The activist once said in a statement,
“Protest is telling the truth in public. Sometimes protest is telling the truth to a public that isn’t quite ready to hear it. Protest is, in its own way, a storytelling. We use our bodies, our words, our art, and our sounds both to tell the truth about the pain that we endure and to demand the justice that we know is possible. It is meant to build and to force a response.”
These days, leaders of the movement look just like you and I. Whether they got their start on social media or out in the field — it’s not difficult to make a name for yourself as a freedom fighter these days. Just ask Johnetta Elzie, a.k.a. Netta who viral on social media just by being a brave face in the Ferguson movement. On how she creates her own Black Girl Magic, the Black Lives Matter activist told Essence,
“Lots of crying. Lots of journaling. It is definitely a struggle, every aspect of my life. I’m just really trying to get over this feeling of extreme loneliness that comes with it. It’s really scary and it’s just me.
I definitely have an amazing group of friends, like my friends from before the movement, and my friends I’ve made through being a protester and being in the movement [but it’s still] lonely because the people I want to be close to me aren’t anymore.”
This new generation of leaders are the bold, brave beings that we need at a time like this. But it didn’t just start with them; they got their fire from somewhere. The great James Baldwin once said,
“History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.
It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.”
Take the quiz below to see which Black History hero/shero you best identify with.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty