Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inspirational Words Can Lead to Inpirational Actions

Today I attended an event where Longwood students and faculty as well as representatives of the Farmville community came together on the steps of the Student Union to read inspirational words from the diary of Barbara Johns, the student who lead the Moton High School walk-out in 1951. According to the host of the event, the purpose of this dramatic reading was to symbolize the need for dedication to social justice, to display the importance of valuing diversity, and reinforce the idea that everyone must strive to work together in order to obtain equality for all.

After listening to the diary reading, it was clear that Barbara Johns was an ordinary African American girl growing up in central Virginia. She worked hard at school, at home, and in every relationship with her family, friends, and teachers. The difference, however, between her and her peers was that she saw an inequality and sought out a way to rectify it.

Long story short: when Barbara Johns’ saw that her “all black” school was much less efficient and equip than the neighboring “all white” school, she immediately gathered her piers in protest. This protest is still recognized today, almost 60 years later. How many Americans today can say that they made a significant difference in the lives of their community or nation... or even their friends by the age of 16?

Unfortunately, the sixteen-year-olds of today seem to be too busy emulating Miley Cyrus and taking shots of peach schnapps when there parents aren't looking. Although, as sad as it is to see wasted youth, I can't say I was much better at that age (which wasn't all that long ago when you think about it). But I guess with age comes maturity and eventually you open your eyes and realize that you're not the most important person in the world. Hopefully someone can figure out a way to inspire not only the younger generation but pretty much everyone these days to get out there and make a difference...and I don't mean give them a free ticket to Disney if they do a measly one day of service.

As harsh, insensitive, rude, or ignorant as it might sound, donating $20 to a local charity every few months isn't exactly "making a difference" or helping your neighbor. MOST of the time you actually have to get off your ass and -literally- offer a helping hand. You can argue that everyone isn't entitled to just be given everything they want or don't have, but everyone should be given the opportunity to get what they want or don't have; and everyone at some point in their lives needs that boost from their friends, families, and neighbors.

If the story of Barbara Johns doesn't help inspire others that they can make a difference, I don't know what will. Think about it: an African American sixteen-year-old girl in 1951 brought her entire school to a protest. I think everyone can take a lesson here and maybe aspire to do the same. Her story has proven that no voice is too small and no action will go unnoticed as long as you have the passion to do what you believe is right.

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