Bob’s Blog: Recalling Glory on The Fourth

Given what our politicized, right-wing Supreme Court has given us this past week – decimating affirmative action in colleges, upholding anti-LGBTQ practices, and refusing to lighten the education debt burden for struggling families – I found myself thinking about the movie Glory today. It is a 1989 film featuring Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington as members of the iconic Massachusetts 54th Infantry, among the first cohort of African American troops to serve in the Civil War. There is a goosebumps-generating scene by the campfire on the eve of a major battle to take Fort Wagner, considered an impregnable military objective. Throughout most of the film, the four main African American characters have been bickering among themselves and navigating tensions living in cramped conditions under one Army-issued tent. Understanding the dangers they will face that next morning, the troops gather around the campfire and take turns telling stories, bearing witness, singing, and praying. It is a powerful moment of transformative solidarity among the four main characters and the troops, who will be fighting that next morning for their very freedom. At the needed moment on the eve of the major battle, the bickering turns into purposeful unity.

For those of us who care about and fight for social justice in this nation, the Supreme Court has reminded us that we are badly in need of a gathering-by-the-campfire moment of transformative solidarity. The call to arms in this case is not about guns and artillery; rather, it is optimizing the tools and principles of a vibrant democracy as weaponry. Peaceful, assertive, purposeful organizing and democratic action – for racial and social justice. And we can no longer afford to be splintered any further – Blacks versus Latinos versus Asian-Pacific Islanders versus Native Americans versus the Queer and Trans versus struggling white communities – each arguing, in an “Oppression Olympics” mentality, that “my community” is ignored and oppressed above all others.

Given the resurgence of white supremacy politics, where voting rights and women’s rights and immigrant rights, and LGBTQ rights have been subject to vicious, political attacks, the time for solidarity is now. This nation will be stuck with this brand of Supreme Court for the next decade or two, which means that we must optimize the tools of democracy better than we ever have before. At TCE, we pledge to stand tall and resolute with our community partners in the fight to secure a multiracial democracy for all, in the spirit of the Beloved Community, investing in infrastructure and organizational support for community organizers, base-building, activism, and advocacy — unapologetically and assertively a FOR ALL narrative; full and complete inclusion; dismantling the infrastructure of structural racism.

Simply put, we must do this together. We need one another more than ever.

Robert K. Ross

The California Endowment



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