By: Marcus Nicholson
Last Wednesday began Black History Month. It was also the kickoff to the Rethinking Race program that is an annual part of The University of Akron’s programming.
Charles J. Ogletree came and spoke to The University of Akron on how African-Americans obtained rights in a segregated society.
“King had the dream, we must have the plan,” Ogletree said. His message was that we should not just sit around and think about what the problem is, but how we should solve it. He wants us to understand the reality of the dream.
Ogletree lectured on how far African-Americans have come in society. He spoke about the sit-ins of restaurants that African-Americans partook in, where they were refused service. By these demonstrations, they were able to overcome major social issues and were eventually given equal rights.
Ogletree explained that Martin Luther King Jr. had a great education, yet was still out in the streets protesting with the common person. The protesting started to gain attention in the courts and it was ruled that the best thing to do was start desegregating.
Ogletree stated that nowadays, when we get successful, we forget where we came from. He said that most of the people who helped us get to where we are today are nameless.
According to Ogletree, there are two reasons he is still here today. One is that he is a child of God, and the other is because of the people who fought for him.
Ogletree lectured also on Thurgood Marshall and the Brown vs. Mackey case. The important part was not the fact that Marshall won, but that he got there.
“It’s not just the sacrifice, but the struggle that makes it so important,” Ogletree said.
Oftentimes, African-Americans forgot how we got here today, Ogletree said. He talked about Obama winning the presidency.
“You younger generations may not have been surprised, but a lot of the older generations never saw it coming,” he said, commenting on the political and social evolvement in recent years of the younger generation.
“Doing something constructive makes a difference,” Ogletree said. There is one black man in the White House and one million black men in jail, and realizing that should help us put a plan to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, he said.
If it were not for African-Americans protesting, marching and staging sit-ins, there would be no Obama in the White House. The struggles that Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-Americans went through paved the way for Obama. Now in the year 2012, with an African-American in the White House, the struggle paid off, he said.
Ogletree is an author of many prominent books and winner of the Lifetime Achievement award. He was the recipient of the first-ever Rosa Parks Award.