Time of the wimps
Q: Dorothy Height, the longtime leader of the National Council of Negro Women, died recently at age 98, prompting President Obama to honor her as "the only woman at the highest level of the civil rights movement." Do leaders of equal standing and notoriety exist today in any social movements? If so, who are the most successful? Has there been a change in the ways in which people seek social change?
Well, it's pretty hard to top Dorothy Height in the "Equal Standing in Social Movements" category. She was pushing for civil rights in the late 1930s, which is impressive considering African Americans didn't even have "uncivil" rights back in those days.
When you make that many contributions and live as long as she did, you become kind of a living historical monument. Most people will never achieve that kind of reputation or have the long-term historical impact that she has. (My uncle Elbert seemed like a living monument in his late 90s, but that's because he sat motionless in the park four hours a day, was a bit pale, and didn't budge when birds landed on him.)
Civil rights are so core to the development of peace and progress on the planet that people who speak out in other categories can't really compete -- and certainly not with a minority female who endured and took action to forward her cause for so many years.
Does that mean that people are not standing up for social movements like they used to? Or are we just running out of truly important things to stand up for?
We can save the trees, the whales, and the white baby seals (and one day, hopefully, seals of all races), but lately we don't seem to stand up for the things that involve actual people. Maybe it's a sign of progress, indicating that we are solving our societal problems. But more likely it's a sure sign that the first part 21st century will go down in history as the "Time of the Wimps"!
Posted by: forgetthis | May 10, 2010 3:33 PM
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