On May 4, 1961, the first Freedom Ride left Washington D.C. en route to New Orleans to fulfill a purpose. Their purpose? To test a Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial segregation in public places. They also set out to challenge the status quo by challenging those that fervently sought to keep America divided. Riders were ultimately arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws.
Ironically, a United States Supreme Court decision granted travelers the legal right to disregard local segregation ordinances, but the Freedom Riders' rights were not enforced, and their actions were considered criminal acts throughout the South. Their journey ended with imprisonment for exercising their legal right. Yes, their legal right was taken as an exception. But nevertheless, these Riders' were ultimately succcessful in bolstering the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. This heroic act resulted in freedoms that we enjoy everyday. I call this innovation. According to Wikipedia:
Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a new idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.
This group was not alone in recognizing a need to foster an idea. I invite you to view important events in the Civil Right Movement that occurred between 1941 and 1962, check this out.
Fast forward to today's era, which many call The Age of Innovation.
The advancement of technology and social media, from music, business, and even politics continue to evolve in ways that impact and drive our innovative spirit. I remember walking into a board room meeting where the faces were Black, Brown, Tan, and White. I also remember February 2, 2009, Inauguration Day, when the first Black President walked onto a podium on a cold day in Washington D.C. to speak to the world. The theme for his Inauguration Day speech, "A New Birth of Freedom," was in honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. As Obama shared the spirit of our growth as a nation from the convergence of our past, it really became surreal in seeing this celebration that brought so many generations together. Which begs me to ask:
What drives your spirit to innovate?
I am not old enough to remember the Freedom Riders that willed their way across America to challenge the status quo that would pave the way for The Civil Rights Movement, and our first Black President. In learning, I was impressed to see Black, Brown, Tan and White faces drawn together in support of a common cause. This influenced a change that came to me in October 2008 when I started blogging. I wanted to honor our first Black President - and in a sense I also wanted to be a 'Rider'.
But I would never equate blogging to putting your life on the line in a very volatile era in which many people in America were unequally divided. But I can appreciate the spirit of activism that lives in so many of us. We all connect with someone that serves as a source for inspiration, and I firmly believe that in this age of innovation, we all play a part. And as innovation continues to drive the growth of this country, imagine what our world might look like today if not for the heroic efforts of those Freedom Riders.
The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible – and achieve it, generation after generation.
-- Pearl S. Buck
I would like to acknowledge and share with you a few friends that inspire me to wake up everyday and ask myself: How can I make a difference?
Yvette Carnell. Former Hill Staffer. Blogger. Atlanta Post Columnist. Social Media enthusiast. Carnell is the founder of a great forward thinking blog titled Breaking Brown, where she shares insight on topics ranging from social media, technology, and politics. In addition to being one of my new favorite bloggers, she shares a spirit of activism that inspires me to write more consciously.
* I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few personal friends like Dawn Johnson, Tracey Brown, Kahti Bowser, Jasiri X, Monroe Anderson, Patricia Cesaire, Keith Beauchamp, Mike Green, Rob Darby, Nailah Baniti, Boyce Watkins, David A. Wilson and Jumaanah Graham - that inspire... and innovate. Thank you.