The Train of Change steams forward, transcending all geographical and historical railroad crossings. The conductor only signals a stop for those ready and willing to climb aboard. The engineer blasts the warning whistle only two or three times for those bold enough to stand in the way. Let’s have a moment of silence for those who inevitably get crushed by the force of progress.
All aboard! I remember watching the television mini-series Roots as a pre-teen. It focused on one family’s genealogical history, which vividly intersected with the slavery era. The program obviously grabbed the attention of all America for it remains ranked in the top three most watched programs in television history. I look forward to watching the 30th anniversary DVD with my children before the end of this year. If you have (pre)teens, I would invite you to track down a copy and share this with your children. The back drop of this movie anchors a period of time in this country that ultimately became a stopping point for the Train of Change. A presidential executive order and a constitutional amendment served as bookends of a Civil War (and moral war) to destroy a very peculiar institution. America stands as a better nation for jumping on board.
All aboard! With some concentrated girl power this year, the two presidential candidates could have been Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. That’s right. More than 50 percent of the population is the better sex. For me, it remains stunning and amazing that a woman’s right to vote did not exist on a nationwide basis until 90 years ago. The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed in 1920. History will not verify if the grassroots movement by women to boycott their men on the home front helped bring this topic to a boil. The Train of Change moved slowly, but without yield as many decades of protests preceded the establishment of equal say in our nation’s affairs.
Before we hug our daughters, let us be cognizant that women’s suffrage remains absent in some parts of the globe in 2008. Surely, this outstanding situation needs to be placed on a one-way, non-stop, bullet express Train of Change.
All aboard! I am proud to say that the Train of Change stopped through the campus and town of my alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University. In 1960, four students initiated a peaceful, non-violent, sit-in to protest the practice of racial segregation. This demand for change at a Woolworth’s lunch counter ultimately set the pace for many more demonstrations in the 1960s. In some cases the demonstrations, and the responses to them, begat courage, pain, pride, shame, resistance, capitulation, danger, anger, explosiveness, hypocrisy, divisiveness and tolerance.
The examples I could give on change go on forever. No doubt that change can be painful like child labor. Nevertheless, the result routinely births a miracle. An offspring prepared to outlive and exceed the expectations of its parents. On the other hand, I have come to understand that the inability to change can lead to death, destruction, extinction, irrelevance, and obsolescence.
Change never starts big. It starts small and slow, but quickly picks up momentum. It originates in our small churches, our small school districts, our small neighborhoods, and our small, local governments. So it is ultimately up to you and I to determine what, where, and when is the next stop for the Train of Change. May I suggest our next destination to be our schools, District 91 and District 209. All aboard!