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Hodge-Muse: Dialogue possible

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, and it applies to everyone, Naomi Hodge-Muse said.

The relevancy “is particularly because the supreme court decided to undo the Voting Rights Act, which allows states to now restrict voting,” she said. “Who would have thought that 50 years after the marches, we’d be revisiting the right to vote?”

Hodge-Muse said her father was a World War II veteran who was injured in combat. He also was born at home. If he were still alive today and intended to continue driving, she said her father would have to pay $25 “to try to find a birth certificate that may or may not exist.”

Like the voting rights act, that is another issue that also “applies to not only black, but white as well,” said Hodge-Muse, who is president of the Martinsville-Henry County Chapter of the NAACP.

Progress was made through peaceful demonstrations, and “this generation needs to see how these rights were obtained” and understand that “we can be divided in our thought processes, but we do not need to turn on each other” or resort to violence, Hodge-Muse said.

Regardless of the color, violence “is deplorable,” she said. Society must come together and learn how to address concerns and injustices “in a such a way that nobody is hurt.”

The biggest obstacle to racial equality that has been overcome in the last 50 years is the ability to talk about the issue, Hodge-Muse said. “We can at least talk about it, and before, there was not even a conversation to be had.”

“Do we still have racism? Oh gosh, yes. It is hidden, disguised” and kept under wraps by other means. “But now, can we have a dialogue about it? Yes, and that is the thing that has most changed,” she said. “Most of us have come a long, long way. We will just have to tolerate those who push hatred and violence until they change their minds or grow too old to raise hell for nothing.”

Locally, she said Martinsville and Henry County “are kind of stuck between 1965 and 1970. We haven’t moved a lot, and that is regrettable. But this is my home town and I’m not giving up on it. I also will not be quiet. When I see things that are onerous, I’m going to continue to speak up, and hope and pray that people join the 21st century,” she said.


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