By Barney Blakeney
As the July 4 Independence Day celebration approached, the dichotomy it represents for African Americans seems as clear today as any other time in American history. I asked some civil rights organization leaders their thoughts.
Several years ago in a local publication one commentator said, “Now that Barack Obama has successfully won and is now the President of the U.S.A., this should be the light that shines on a new America. I believe we have surpassed, as a whole society, the inequalities that the NAACP needed to stand for. For a group to put its main focus on race, when racism isn’t tolerated in today’s mainstream society, only works divisively and negatively.”
S.C. NAACP Conference of Branches President Brenda Murphy last week said, “We are facing challenges today that should cause some hesitance in the manner in which we celebrate this Independence Day holiday. Attempts are currently being made to push us backward. We are struggling to gain or maintain the economic sustainability and rights guaranteed to us as citizens. Diversity issues and concerns are becoming more prominent in our society; while hatred appears to be becoming more normalized now than in the past. Our voting rights have been crippled with the removal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. We must take heed and become aware of what is happening around us and to us.
“Leadership is pushing for the immediate appointment of a replacement for retiring Chief Justice Kennedy with a more conservative appointee,” she said. “This appointment should not be done until legislators are seated in January 2019, as was the practice and standards our immediate past president was held to and which should be required of this administration. It is imperative that we get out the vote during the mid-term elections and urge others to do the same to ensure we have representation for all people. We must act vigorously to help individuals understand what is at stake if changes continue as they have under this current administration. Independence Day this year is without the ‘Happy’, as we are faced with the struggle to maintain our independence.”
The National NAACP last week issued this statement: “The stakes for nominating a new Supreme Court Justice could not be higher at this moment in our history. The Court is meant to be an unbiased guardian of rights and liberties of all Americans. The country desperately needs a fair-minded and independent jurist on the Supreme Court. Now is not the time for a divisive and biased appointment which will further shake the public’s faith in our nation’s justice system. The constitutional process for appointing and confirming the next justice must be thoughtful, careful, deliberative, and conducted with well-informed bipartisan support.”
June 23, two Black Summerville teens invited to the pool by a resident of the Reminisce Community in Summerville were confronted by 38 year-old Stephanie Sebby-Strempel, who is white. She informed them they didn’t belong there and demanded they leave. Although the teens were invited guests, they gathered their belongings and began to exit the pool area. Sebby-Strempel followed them. Still photographs and cell phone video captured her yelling at the teens, physically assaulting one of the teens and threatening to call 911 on them. Sebby-Strempel continued to follow the teens to the exit, hitting one again and referring to them as “little punks”.
National Action Network S.C. Director Elder James Johnson Saturday while en route to protest the flying of the Confederate Flag in Holly Hill said his organization daily gets calls about various injustices against Black people. Today’s federally sanctioned separation of immigrant children from their parents reminds him of the separation of enslaved Black children from their parents, he said. “I have nothing to celebrate on the Fourth of July,” Johnson said. “My Independence Day is Junteenth.”