What We Stand For

By Christopher Edley, Jr., President and Co-Founder

Sadly, it is reasonable to expect more confrontations like those in Charlottesville, Virginia. That kind of violence—the murder of a young woman, the vicious beating of a young man, the intimidation and physical harm visited upon counter-protestors—has no place in our social and civic discourse, and must be disavowed by leaders great and minor, public and private, national and community. The notion that the actions of the fascist agitators were morally equivalent to those of the counter-protesters is at once foolish, subversive, and alarmingly foul.

Avowed white supremacists have acknowledged feeling comforted by the remarks of President Trump and help us understand the egregious failure of his leadership. How can we respond to armed engagement between civilians in our public squares and to the gravely un-American statements by our president?

Our response should include peaceful engagement in politics by other means. Struggles over symbols and history are important. We believe, however, that an even better way to repudiate and repair history’s harms is to embrace a renewed intensity in the struggle for opportunity.  The civil wrongs espoused by today’s haters must never again be the American way. While resisting the damnable we must also be persistent guardians of the righteous progress justice demands.

Most people who share our passion for that progress do work every day that feels to them far from the struggle. At The Opportunity Institute, we feel privileged to be in it every day, in everything we do. Most of you reading this have the same privilege. We look forward to continuing our hard, shared work. Perhaps we need to recover a positive piece of history far nobler than monuments to slavery’s champions. We must recover the confidence that we will do more than persevere. “We shall overcome.”