“I can’t breathe."

These are words that should cause someone to seek to provide a remedy—especially if your job is to protect and serve or if you at the least saw me as human. If I say, “Black Lives Matter” and you reply “All Lives Matter,” then you truly are not hearing my cry.

The Black race has been fighting for equal rights since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 and the Thirteenth Amendment of 1865. Enslaved men, women and children status was changed because of the abolishment of slavery; except as punishment for a crime. With the stroke of a pen, the color of the skin became a crime.

The assault against the black man didn’t just start with the videos from the cell phones. Ida B. Wells campaigned for anti-lynching laws in the 1930s. Emmett L. Till was killed in 1955. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. campaigned against police brutality in the 1960s.

In 2020, we have peaceful protest for the very same reasons. The cell phone has opened the doors of social media and the injustice is being seen all over the world, not just the parts that the media wants us to see. Therefore, I believe the protest for justice has crossed the lines of different culture and economic backgrounds. But we must carry our protest to the ballot box, voting in state, local and federal elections. We must get involved in our communities, becoming my brothers’ keeper.

When we stand together, we win. Yes, all lives matter, but the black lives are under assault and “I can’t breathe!”

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Thornton
Chairperson, Regional Advisory Council on Civil and Human Rights (RACOCHR)
UAW Region 1