Carole and Bianca 1963 and 2017, Why?
This is a very difficult essay to write this morning because it places the shame of light on the obvious racism and racial hatred that still steams at the seams of our American culture. I was saddened to learn of the murder of Bianca Roberson on Wednesday. Bianca was traveling on a state highway in Chester County, Pennsylvania when she was assassinated in an episode of road rage. Bianca was completing some chores and returning home when she got caught in the snare of racial hatred. She was a young black woman caught in the act of driving while black. My own daughter is now in the process of learning how to drive and I was so excited about her improvements recently until this act of murderous rage. Now I must again retreat to the level of constant of alarm whenever she starts the engine up and heads away from home. Bianca was 18 years-old and Skyler is 16 years-old and both had promising futures until Wednesday past. Now only Skyler’s future is ahead of her while Bianca’s future life ended in her car on that Chester County state highway behind the steering wheel of her car with a bullet lodged in her brains. How can people be so cruel? How can people be so heartless? It ain’t easy for us to accept the level of hatred that flows through the veins of maniacal men and women disturbed with these unhealthy levels of racism. Today, I am going to make an emotional comparison between two young ladies whose last names were so similar but whose lives both ended as a result of rage and racial hatred. One died, Carole Robertson, with 3 of her friends on a Sunday morning in September in 1963 attending Sunday School Services at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. while the other Bianca Roberson died instantaneously by herself on that state highway in Chester County on Wednesday past.
Let’s first go back to that terrible Sunday morning on September 15, 1963, when Robert Chambliss and his cohorts of haters placed that dynamite in that church on that tragic Sunday morning. When the bomb exploded and killed those innocent little girls including Carole Robertson. That murderous act of assassination shook the core of this nation. It showed that atmosphere of hate and racial animosity that had darkened the skies of the southern states now turned the entire nation into midnight in America, that Sunday morning when it was reported on the national news. The girl's murderer, Robert Chambliss, was full of racial rage and hate. His actions were motivated by a simple desire to stop racial progress for all black people by instilling a sense of fear that the devil was lurking and eyeing our most innocent. The act itself actually was a source of determination to overcome the evils perpetrated by those who waged an attack on the decency of society. How could anyone feel that killing four innocent girls could create a sense of loss so devastating that it would destroy a people’s movement for freedom? The killing, murderous as any in the annals of American History actually created new advocates willing now to stand up for rights denied others simply because of color. My guess is that the activity on the National Mall motivated the Klan to incite fear. So soon after more than 200,000 people of all colors converged on the National Mall in August of 1963 with a demand for freedom and jobs It had the opposite effect of unification rather than polarization of like minded people. You see the spirit of those four little girls also inspired millions to never give in to injustice. Those four little girls were on the streets of Birmingham, on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, on the March Against Fear in 1966, on the streets of Harlem, Chicago, and Oakland. Their spirits were the ray of light that guided our progress.
Fast forward to Wednesday, June 28, 2017, on that state highway in Chester County, Pennsylvania when that as of yet unidentified white man decided to assassinate Bianca Roberson. His intentions were motivated also by rage and racial hatred. There is no doubt that currently in our nation a significant uptick in racially motivated acts of hatred being leveled against people of color. The trend is disturbing because 54 years more than a half a century has passed between these two monstrous act of terror. When a nation should be more aligned to draw together to solve our most pressing issues. We as a nation seem to be pulling apart at the seams of continued hatred and bigotry. Will this senseless assassin’s act motivate a move in this nation towards conciliation? Or will we continue to drift apart? Creating two separate societies split not only because of the color line but also split because of the justice line. One group of people suffering from insurmountable obstacles that stifle growth. The other people ignoring or making invisible the plight of those suffering masses. Bianca Roberson murder should engage our communities to have frank talks about the levels of increased hatred. We must find avenues of similarities that will bridge the gaps of our perceived differences to the level of human and social positive connections. How can anyone feel that this intentional of hate was or is justifiable? Bianca’s life was snuffed out simply for being black and interacting with a level of racism willing to destroy her future, period. That is unacceptable in this or any other society. Too many of our young black people’s lives are being stuffed out on a daily basis, either by our own hands, the hands of a militaristic police department, or simply racial hatred of those who favor injustice. Who speaks for Bianca Roberson? Martin Luther King Jr spoke at the funeral of Carole Robertson and her 3 friends in Birmingham. Alabama on September 18, 1963: part of his dynamic eulogy cited the following:
“They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.”
We all must speak for Bianca Roberson, as Ella Baker encouraged us to mass together as a people solely intent on delivering equality across the nation. We are equal in every way to anyone else there is simply no denying that fact. We cannot and should accept acts of these types of common everyday occurrences because they aren’t common in any way. They are terroristic in nature and are at the lowest possible denominator of mankind. These actions are motivated by pure hatred and racism and the uptick of acts like in our nation are unacceptable. We cannot allow nor should we find it acceptable that any of our leaders promote or endorse actions that create an environment conducive to that behavior. Who speaks for Bianca Roberson, the person to the right of you, the person to the left of you, the person behind you, and the person in front of you. If we can find the humaneness that embodies each of us. We can wipe these acts of hatred off this planet. God bless you, Bianca Roberson, may you be welcomed in the glory and kingdom of God. You left this planet in the most insidious manner but your spirit will run free.