The immortal words authored by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence honor America and all who cherish freedom, liberty, and human dignity.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These words must eternally inspire our dedication to social justice, which can only be obtained when the dignity of every human person is respected.
Respect for human rights is the basis of moral legitimacy and the criteria of government’s rightful authority.
This respect is also a reflection of character, not only of individuals, but of a nation. Respect always stands diametrically opposed to discrimination, prejudice, and racism. These vices are dehumanizing as they dishonor the moral heartbeat of humanity demanding respect for our neighbor.
Every person being deserves dignity and respect, as we are all members of the same human family.
This respect must extend to all, including those who are different by sex, race, color, social conditions, language, ethnicity, age, country of origin, or religion.
Racism in America: A Reality Check
In my article titled “Racism in America: Time for Unity,” published in the June 26, 2015 edition of the Epoch Times, I emphasized the heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen, World War II combat aviators representing America’s courage, service, and patriotism.
I argued that “during a time when these men could not eat, be educated, ride the bus, or use the same restrooms as white men, they valiantly served America.”
Yet, despite their courage and the patriotism of countless other black Americans, racism continues in America as witnessed on June 17, 2015. On that fateful day, a white supremacist shot nine people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, because they were black.
Black History Month: Celebrating Diversity
Each February, America commemorates Black History Month, a time to honor achievements by black Americans throughout our history.
Since 1950, mayors throughout American cities have issued proclamations honoring this celebration.
The civil rights movement of the 1960’s dramatically influenced diversity in America, with a clarion call for respect, dignity, and human rights.
Black history, and the differences of all people must be celebrated, as is it reflects the diversity which makes America unique.
FBI: Addressing Hard Truths, Enhancing Diversity
In another article titled “Law Enforcement and Race: FBI Directors Hard Truths,” published in the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of the Epoch Times, I memorialized the “hard truths” FBI Director James B. Comey urged America to address.
“We can choose to have an open and honest discussion about what our relationship is today—what it should be, and what it needs to be—if we take time to better understand each other,” Comey said addressing police and community relations.
Complementing Director Comey’s words, the FBI is committed to enhancing diversity as exemplified in their annual celebration of Black History Month each February, which I have attended many times at their Newark Field Office.
An event held on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, comes to mind with a keynote delivered by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.
Dr. Glaude’s candid remarks on sobering issues confronting black Americans included the following:
- There are too many communities of concentrated poverty with sobering statistics of unemployment in America.
- Dilapidated schools in poor communities across the nation are failing our children.
- Prison has become an industrialized complex that trades in bodies for profit.
- 35 percent of black children are growing up in poverty.
- There is tragic abject misery in many communities in the most powerful nation that the world has ever seen.
- America is at a crossroads and we must respond with courage.
- The nation must be honest about its past to inform the future. This includes an honest understanding of the epidemic of lynching as documented by the website Without Sanctuary.
- Those who risked their lives to give us and preserve our liberties must be remembered.
- America has a budget deficit but it must not have a visionary deficit … the principles of our democracy must give us hope and be upheld … we must avoid conspicuous consumption and treat financial resources more respectfully … we must rise to the challenge and be renewed as a people.
- America must not have its precious ideals undermined by the lack of virtue in society … we must learn the lessons of the past and restore virtue back into society.
America is at a crossroads, especially with police-community relations and the need for resolution, reform, and renewal.
Inspired by the words of Jefferson that “all men are created equal,” as well as the prophetic words of Lincoln proclaiming “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal,” it is time for reawakening the nation with respect, dignity, and diversity.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.