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When you’re Black in America, you ain’t got the time. Time for the nonsense, time to waste, and more often than not, time to process. The latest event in Montgomery, Alabama is proof of that.
Just hours after The Black Wall Street Times team visited The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday afternoon, a viral video would show yet another instance of racial violence around the corner. A group of white men and women jumped a Black security guard who had asked them to move their boat so another could dock at the Riverfront.
In a state where the most insidious and iconic human beings have long left their mark on our country, the unsettling videos soon captured the nation’s attention.
While attending industry meetings at the 48th annual National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Conference throughout the week, thought-provoking brunches, and taking red carpet pictures are nice and all, we understand racial violence against one of us is the same whipping lash against each of us.
Though meeting the phenomenally photogenic Nikole Hannah-Jones was not only a vibe as I talked through our entire picture, Montgomery’s boat-fight was yet another unnecessary reminder that the 1619 Project is a reflection of an historically uncompromising White society.
After celebrating Black journalism, cleaning the whole plate at Jim ‘N Nicks, meeting with the Black folks of Birmingham and Montgomery, and leaving 16th St. Baptist Church on the first Sunday of the month, we soon left Alabama baptized in a rainy and windy spiral of reflection.
An hour after sitting where Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson went to church, three writers found themselves on the road with a loss for the right words.
To encapsulate the range of emotions is difficult. Last year, I published an article about their lesser known fifth sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was seeking an apology and compensation as a result of the devastating bombing.
This weekend, I was fortunate enough to briefly meet with and congratulate Rudolph on writing her story. After asking if I’d like another book after misspelling my name, we laughed about it and agreed it’d be more memorable if she left the mistaken “K”.
Riding back home, our scattered thought bubbles were soon bursts when our managing editor Deon Osbourne broke the silence.
“Have y’all seen this yet? Something happened in Montgomery,” he asked. I replied, “What? We were JUST there.”
With the memory of an Tikar elephant, after seeing the footage, our founder Nehemiah Frank commented, “That’s where they used to drop our ancestors off at! That’s the river! They used to walk them up to the Market.”
When you’re Black in America, you don’t get time to process one emotion before the next. All you can do is take a deep breath, pray, and keep going. And that’s what we did.
What happened in Montgomery?
The Montgomery Police Department has now issued four active arrest warrants following the chaos that ensued at a waterfront on Saturday.
According to Alabama Local News, the brawl broke out between people at the waterfront, which the mayor has described as “an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.” Videos of the incident hint that the brawl broke out over a dispute regarding a parking space at the dock.
One clip, shared by a man named Josh Moon, showed the fight going down after a Black man in uniform spoke to a White man. Things got heated, and a shirtless White man appeared to strike the Black man in the head.
The confrontation got even bigger once more people got involved in an attempt to break up the scuffle. Other footage showed several people in handcuffs, while the Montgomery Police Department released a statement Saturday claiming that “several subjects had been detained and any charges are pending.”
There’s no word on what incited the brawl. However, Mayor Steven L. Reed issued a statement via social media stating justice will be served as warrants have been signed.
“Last night, the Montgomery Police Department acted swiftly to detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job,” Mayor Reed wrote. “Warrants have been signed and justice will be served. This was an unfortunate incident which never should have occurred.”
He continued, “As our police department investigates these intolerable actions, we should not become desensitized to violence of any kind in our community. Those who choose violent actions will be held accountable by our criminal Justice system.”
Alabama changes you
When people argue the conversation of lynchings or racism are overblown, we often like to contextualize it in the past, but Saturday’s reminder of the cowardice actions of mobs of White people against innocent Black folks endlessly introduces new characters in the slave movie that seems to never end.
Saturday, for many, was the latest instance of unprovoked deep-fried Southern racial violence against those who are darker than Blue.
It wasn’t long after we watched the brawl together that we passed several more reminders that the more things change the more they stay the same.
We take that breath because although America has treated its most valuable assets like the least — we breathe, wobble, and live for our ancestors who never could.
Many were not only robbed of oxygen but so many Black folks left this earth simply known as “UNKNOWN,” unnecessarily and cruelly robbed of remembrance for the rest of time.
In America, we don’t get the time to absorb one moment of conflict or controversy, we simply take a breath and keep going. Just like our ancestors.