Dreaming of worlds to come: a letter to young activists
[image description: Activist at a Black Lives Matter protest. Washington, D.C., US – June 6, 2020. Johnny Silvercloud / Shutterstock.com]
The National Council of Elders recounts the many decades of struggle for social justice and civil rights, sharing their experiences with a new generation of activists.
The escalation of all forms of violence in our country over the last four years, the rise of anti-democratic forces demonstrated at the US Congress building on January 6 and the occupation of Washington, D.C. for President Biden’s inauguration add up to what may be among the most dangerous times in US history.
We elders, members of the National Council of Elders, invite you to pause and contextualize these events within a culture of violence that shapes America.
We know the US began with violence against Indigenous and African peoples. Through the centuries, the triple evils of racism, materialism and militarism have marked our country. At the same time, people have resisted these forces, organizing for freedom and justice.
And at every stage in our history, progressive movements have been met with legalized violence, carried out by federal, state and local authorities as they attempt to protect power and privilege by destroying individuals and organizations who challenge them. This state directed violence against progressive efforts encourages and supports extra-legal actions by right-wing extremist individuals and organizations. Violence like this, necessary for white supremacy to maintain itself, shaped our daily lives.
We elders ask you to consider and understand the violence that preceded the events of January 6.