Like thousands of you, I was following Charlottesville very closely. In almost real-time I saw the white supremacist deliberately drive his car, using it as a brutal weapon, directly into a diverse crowd of men and women who were literally just crossing the street. Soon we learned that one amazing woman, Heather Heyer, was killed in this attack.
I learned that Heather was “one of us” far more than I ever understood. Heather Heyer was actually a part of the Injustice Boycott and participated in our direct actions against police brutality and mass incarceration here in New York. The world is already small, but the world of activists and people willing to use their time and privilege to fight back against oppression is even smaller. Learning that Heather was a part of our tribe, and fought against injustice alongside us, made her loss all the more real for me.
I see Heather as a martyr in this modern day movement against injustice and oppression. I’ve said it many times, but if you ever wondered what it would be like to be alive in the Civil Rights Movement, you are living in that time right now! And if you ever wondered who you would be or what you would do in those circumstances, the best indication is what you did this weekend. If you watched and said nothing, if you normally watch and say nothing, if you only share an occasional Facebook post here and there, and that is the extent of your activism, then that is an indicator of who you’d be if you were alive in the 1960s. Because we are LIVING IN THAT TIME right here, right now.
We cannot allow Heather’s death to be in vain. She was a brave, generous, courageous soul and we would do well to mimic her life. I am convinced that this nation is far more unstable and problematic than most of us are willing to admit, but it appears things may grow worse before they get better. But I want you to hear this from me – they will get better because we will fight for them to get better. And we will win. I believe that with all of my heart.
(FYI: Injustice Boycott members helped play an essential role in Raise The Age in New York….helped play an essential role in New York announcing it is going to shut down Rikers Island…played an important role in Seattle announcing it would divest from Wells Fargo…together, have raised millions of dollars for causes and families and victims to give them all the support they need.)