I am so moved by Ruby Sales’ witness here:
I am not an icon. I am the continuation and product of generations of Black planting and tilling in an unimaginable and never ending climate of White supremacy, state sanctioned terrorism and psychological warfare.
If we forget this, we raise up grand and egocentric individuals who imagine that they created a people rather than being the handiwork of a people who worked hard to carve out of the sackcloth of systemic oppression a life giving space where individuals could strive to reach their higher selves.
This is the context that must shape our telling and understanding of Movement history. It must be understood as the story of a people who worked and dreamed together to create spiritual and cultural resources that enabled us not to become what White supremacists intended. Right in the glare of systemic soppression, they fertilized and built a movement where they and their children worked toward a common vision even when they differed on the path.