Everyone agrees that we live in a post 9/11 world. Here in NYC it’s not uncommon to see heavily armed policemen/women on the streets and in the subway. Just the other day I saw just a team while on the E train. Each member had a high-powered rifle and they all looked very relaxed. I would assume that they are highly trained and I would not want to be the one that would turn them into a seriously aggressive unit.

I’m sure I was not the only one to see this team. As I looked around the subway car I noticed that none of my co-riders had that panicked look in their eyes wondering what was going on. This type of scene has become a regular part of day to day living.  I, for one, was very happy to see them. I felt assured that if something did happen a team such as that one would be ready to gain control of any disturbance.

As a kid growing up in the Albany Houses in Brooklyn, New York, I never saw any police walking around armed like this team was. That was because there was no need.

There was a visible police presence but, there was never a need for a swat team in our everyday lives. We did have the local criminals and some gang activity but overall I felt pretty safe at 1414 Bergen Street.

Across the street from The Albany Houses was a park. It was and is called St John’s Park. There we would participate in playing softball, basketball and handball. There was and still is a community center there. It’s called St John’s Recreational Center. Inside we could play more basketball, go swimming and I remember that there was even a fencing team.

As inner city kids we were blessed. We had a lot to keep us busy.

The first time I could remember feeling any sort of fear was when President Kennedy was killed. The cold war was in full bloom. Our first thoughts were that the Russians had killed Kennedy.

During that time we lost other great leaders. We lost Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers, just to name a few.

The world then was a very big place. I had an idea of what was going on in my immediate neighborhood and the only time I found out about some event on the other side of the world was in school or while watching the Olympics.

It was during the 1972 Olympics in Germany that I first came in contact with word, terrorist. I had no idea that the Israelis and the Palestinians had been fighting each other for many years.

As I searched through my memory that may not have been the first time I had seen terrorism in action.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963 is one example. Four girls age 14 and one age 11 was killed in a senseless act where one group of people was at war with another group of people. One of the groups was completely defenseless.

There were also the marches that went from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. There heavily armed policemen attacked those who marched with tear gas, fire hoses and dogs.  The news media of the time didn’t use the word terrorism. The only difference between then and the 1972 Olympics was that the whole world was not able to tune in as it was happening.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers were assonated by snipers.

We all can agree that the act of terrorism has not been limited to those places outside the United States. These events of the Civil Rights Movement are a very important part of American history.

We can also agree that we have come a long way since the 1950’s and 1960’s. As a Black American I do have the right to vote and I can participate in many things that my dad could only dream of.

Despite all that has been accomplished there is still a long way we as a country have to go.

We did elect the Barack Obama to the office of president but we still have a problem with a high number of Black males being killed by people in law enforcement. I’m confident that this will become a thing of past as we in this country continually move in the direction of racial equality.

There is one thing that seems to escape discussion and that is Black on Black crime.

February is Black History Month. During this month we will spend time talking about all the struggles and successes of those in the Black community.

I am very proud to be a Black American.

I think it’s important for all young people of all races to know and understand what went on during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Many people lost their lives in an effort to make this country a better place.

Now we live in a world where extremists want to challenge our way of life. They have made seeing heavily armed police a regular occurrence.

We as positive parents must use the examples during the Civil Rights Movement to teach our kids that tolerance and understanding are very important principles. These principles must be the foundation that we use to make sure our kids learn that everyone is important.

Who knows seeing heavily armed police may become a thing of the past.

I’m the guy whose glass is always 1/2 full.






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