Vol. 9    No. 1
JANUARY 9, 2014

The Capital City Hues
(608) 241-2000

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The Capital City Hues
PO Box 259712
Madison, WI 53725
($45 a year)
Contact Number:
(608) 241-2000


Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Rebecca Her, Heidi
Pascual,  & Martinez White

Heidi M. Pascual
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           Sankofa Movement
I have always loved the symbolism of Sankofa, looking back while moving forward. The Sankofa bird
with an egg in its beak — the future — looks behind to see where it has come from. By understanding the
past, we know where we are going as a community, as a nation and as a global village.

Now looking back at the past is not the same as being nostalgic. When we are nostalgic, we get a warm
and fuzzy feeling inside as we think about our mix of real and imagined memories of things that have
gone on before. “Oh remember when things were so much simpler?” The nostalgia usually gives us relief
from the pain and hardships of the present. Nostalgia can be a type of opiate that relieves suffering, but
does little to make us move toward a resolution of the suffering. “Why move when just thinking about the
past relieves my pain?”

And we always need to remember that the “Good Old Days” were not as good as we recall. Take 1963,
for instance. We can relish the thought of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a
Dream” speech and sing We Shall Overcome and have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside and leave it at

Now I do enjoy that warm and fuzzy feeling, but I also recall that NAACP field organizer Medgar Evers
was assassinated in front of his Jackson, Mississippi home, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed
and four little girls died, civil rights marchers were attacked by vicious dogs in Birmingham, Alabama
and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. These are just a few of the tragedies that occurred.
And so like the Sankofa bird, we must, indeed, look back, but we definitely have to keep moving forward.
Too often we look at our liberties and freedom as something that we win once and then we have them
forever. Pass the 13th-15th amendments to the Constitution and everyone, regardless of race and class,
is a citizen of the United States with the full rights and responsibilities that come with it. While that lasted
for 10-20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson put an end to that notion of freedom
and America’s apartheid system, the segregated South, was locked in for another 68 years.

Thurgood Marshall, one of the NAACP legal architects of its school desegregation efforts, felt that with the
resounding 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, U.S. citizens would
immediately follow the law of the land and integration would immediately follow. Our schools — private
and public — are probably as segregated now as they were back then.

While we thought the restrictions on the free movement of people and segregated facilities ended with the
passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 passage of the Fair Housing Act, we still have a lot of
segregation that is dictated by economics. You have to pay as you go for almost everything these days
with user fees and the like and so the poor have a lot less freedom of movement than the rich and
famous. Those signs that say “Whites Only” may only be in museums, but the “invisible hand” of
economics surely keeps people in their place now. And increasingly, it is harder for people to move out
of “their place” through hard work and sacrifice.

And so, we must always move forward in our pursuit of meaningful civil rights. There is always
movement, the flux of life, in this area. If the movement isn’t toward preserving and expanding
meaningful civil rights, then the movement is toward retrenching and restricting our meaningful civil
rights. Every generation must define and earn its freedom. If the generation is consumed by what I would
call a decadent focus on materialism and feel-good sensations without regard to what occurs in the
public arena, they are bound to ultimately lose their freedom.

During this King Holiday celebration, remember the Sankofa bird. Don’t be hopelessly transfixed in
nostalgia for the past during the holiday, but use it to refresh yourself and plan what you are going to do
going forward for the good of everyone’s civil rights.
Calls for Renewed Activism
Moving Forward 50 Years Later