The March Begins Today

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the March from Selma: Fifty Years Later. Read other perspectives here.

"Love isn't about what we did yesterday; it's about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after." ~ Grace Lee Boggs

"I marched for Civil Rights in the '60s! You can't treat me this way!" ~ a disgruntled customer to some activists

Nostalgia whitewashes history and ignores the present. Do not make this mistake. Nostalgia is a trap. It brings spiritual and emotional sleep.

To leave Selma in the past is a dangerous thing. The march from Selma to Montgomery did not just happen fifty years ago and the struggle for Civil Rights did not end in the 1960s.

The road from Selma is still winding its way through our hearts.

The road from Selma runs through Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, New York City, Stockton, Cincinnati, Fullerton, Tempe, and Miami Gardens.

The road from Selma is riddled with tear gas, percussion grenades, German Shepherds, and less than lethal projectiles that take out eyes, crack skulls, and leave large bruises on our skin. The road is paved with armored vehicles and papered with the Police Officers Bill of Rights.

The road from Selma is walked by youth who have had enough of friends and family members being harassed, locked up, raped, or shot down in the street by agents of the government. It is walked by grandparents and lovers who have had enough of officers who act like judge, jury, and executioner.

The march from Selma delivers letters from the families of the dead to those who walk the marble corridors in state capitols.

The march from Selma is Black Brunch, interrupting upper class eggs benedict.

The march from Selma is clergy doing die-ins in an intersection, or holding up mirrors to the faces of police in riot gear.

The march from Selma blockades trains, police stations, federal buildings, and hardware stores. It storms mayor's offices and takes over the street.

The road from Selma is uncomfortable. The march from Selma is a disruption.

The signs on the road from Selma read, "It is long past time to pay attention."

This is a march for justice. This is a march for life.

This march is for Yuvette Henderson, 38-year-old mother of two, gunned down and left in the street for five hours because she was suspected of shoplifting in a Home Depot.

This is for Alan Blueford, age 18, scant weeks from graduation, gunned down in front of the Cinco de Mayo party he'd run toward for safety.

This is for Andy Lopez, age thirteen, killed for playing with a BB gun.

This is for Jessica Hernandez, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Kayla Moore, Alex Nieto, Eric Garner, Aiyana Jones, and Oscar Grant.

This march is for everyone incarcerated because of poverty, racial profiling, and the War on Drugs.

If we are not all marching from Selma, we are remiss in our responsibility to one another.

My religion calls upon me to practice, to love, and to fight. My Gods call on me to deepen in wisdom, and to enjoy the lush gifts of this life. My Goddesses encourage me to stand for justice, and to live life out loud in honor of all that is sacred.

They call upon us all to help mend the fabric that is rent by ignorance, apathy, dismay, greed, and neglect. They call upon us to help weave the fabric of community from the strong and vibrant threads of love, equity, beauty, justice, and joy.

When people are gunned down among us, we must find ways to repair the holes left by the bullets. We organize. We march. To Montgomery. To Cleveland. To Denver. To Los Angeles. To Detroit. To D.C. To Ferguson.

We march from Selma. Some among us march every single day. Some are marching tirelessly so their people can be free.

Harriet Tubman said, "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

The torches, dogs, and shouting are coming after our brothers, sisters, and siblings.

We must march, because as it is said: until all are free, none of us are free. We must not look back.

With the families of those killed by police, I've stood in courthouses, federal buildings, and city halls. I've marched with them in Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento. These families have been marching for years, in deep sorrow and angry determination. More join their ranks every twenty-eight hours.

The pernicious acts of faith, love, and anger that caused the young people of Ferguson to not give up, to not look back, are acts of invitation to us all. They are marching directly from Selma, and back further still. They are marching in the steps of Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass. They are marching all the way from the ships, laden with human beings, which landed on our shores. They are marching from the ships that preceded even those, bringing pestilence and death. We are invited to join this march: to shed our complacency and awaken our souls.