Photo by Braňo on Unsplash

How is today different than the yesterday we seldom remember? Why are we not able to walk together and embrace as brothers with the strength meant to last past the freedom marches that started even before I was born. As a generation scorns at the manners displayed, the unity they stayed but not for the lives they have paid.

Did not their lives matter yesterday the same as the Black Lives Matter heard today as changes were made so we may live free, now? Must we forget the atrocities we’ve seen on mass media that mean to demean in the same Black History yet come together as if anew whence social media reveals similar images that time before drew loud crowds for even their children would see, could see another Black man beaten so miserably hanging free from a tree?

The actions in our own communities create names that change to numbers under the gavel of a judge and then we blame a system for the work we as men have not done when destruction is made of our own accord, sending our own to the grave where our forefathers creating something from nothing, gathering everything they had in the hope of a tomorrow they have yet to see.

Why must we quit the back history of Black History? Disregarding the tenacity and ability to succeed against far greater odds than today, they became doctors and lawyers, inventors and artists. Yet, today we have a problem because ‘they’ are not taking care of me. They owe me as if I deserve more than I hold myself accountable for, forgetting to ask how I can honor their yesterday by living today in harmony with the history that tried for me, died for me, the grandmothers’ mothers who have cried for me?

May we rise past the years and hear the songs that made us as people able and capable to overcome what was done even through the tomorrow we may not see and be today the kings and queens, princes and princesses we were before time became defined by shackles and chains that remain…in our DNA.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Jeffrey Shockley

Jeffrey Shockley is an African American contributing writer incarcerated at State Correctional Institute Fayette in Pennsylvania. He has been serving a life sentence since 1999.