Written WorksWhen History Meets the Future Robert L. Dortch Jr. | June 20, 2020

In recent weeks, our history has collided with the future and given birth to a triumphantly turbulent moment that will forever change us. As a man of African descent born in the former capital of the Confederacy, I believe that our history has haunted us because it refuses to die and to remain in yesterday, where it belongs. It keeps showing up wanting to relive a romanticized past of glory days filled with granite and bronze gods that traumatized many of us and served no one, not even itself.  This history refuses to let today and tomorrow have their time to breathe, to grow and to learn how to be its best and most beautifully flawed self. Furthermore, the past keeps showing up in hostile and hateful ways not to teach, but to kill the very children it gave birth to who are dying as they cry out "I can't breathe". But the future has risen up to say, "enough is enough."

Tomorrow's generation has come today, earlier than expected and hit the streets with cries of Black Lives Matter and No Justice! No Peace! Today is a new day and our future is relentless in exercising their birthright to be an active part of changing America. The future will not be denied because some of us are stuck in a time that is no more. In witnessing firsthand this organic movement, one certainty has been confirmed; change is inevitable and here to stay.

As this generation is discovering its voice and growing into this moment, they're showing us that America is so much more than melodic sounding words penned on parchment by a group of ivory hued men whose actions often contradicted the aspirational words that would frame our beginnings and serve as a roadmap for future generations. America is more than a corporation, which is what this idea started out with seed funding by the Virginia Company when a group of adventurous soon to be colonizers crossed the Atlantic in exploration and pursuit of economic riches. It's more than a church for those who were fleeing persecution in search of religious freedom. It's more than a country which is what we became when our independence was declared in 1776, but America has always been and continues to be a movement. It's a dynamic vision that's changing and evolving and we the people and are like a collection of artists attempting to add to this masterpiece of democracy on the same canvas passed onto us by those who came before us.

We must be willing to unpack the past so that we do not bring unnecessary baggage into the future because it will inevitably weigh us down. Some things should be buried in the past and we should only bring the lessons which will serve us in our efforts to make the American ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness a reality. What we're learning in this moment is that it's time to discard that which doesn't fit us and the world we're moving into.

Those who only want to focus on the what has been of yesterday have a tendency not to think about the what can be of today and tomorrow and the what can be is what gives us courage because it involves visioning and imagining another way.  The what can be offers possibility and possibility offers hope and hope is like a fresh breath of air which offers us a lifeline into a future that moves us beyond the shackles of a history that has enslaved us and kept us locked up, even when freedom is within our reach. This vision must be shared for it to have meaning and to serve as an inspiration worth striving or stretching for. Tomorrow will look different than yesterday and that's okay, it should be that way. Today's time has come.
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