Wednesday, May 25, 2022




Most people have their own definition of freedom, but if we look back at our history then it is clear that the meaning of freedom changes. For our ancestors, freedom was being treated with basic decency, having the right to vote, and ending segregation. Today, freedom is having the right to be alive. 

Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibition the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Those freedoms guaranteed to citizens in 1791 did not apply to African Americans.

On January 31, 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. For formerly enslaved Americans, the 13th Amendment put an end to the whip, separation of family members, and being treated as property. While it was more symbolic than immediately practical, it brought hope. In 1868, the 14th Amendment extended equal protection of the laws to all citizens. Finally in 1870, the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote of citizens could not be denied because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Through and through, freedom is being redefined in our society, and today the new form of freedom we need is the right to live without fear. 

According to Mapping Police Violence in 2019, police killed 1,098, which means that it is about three people per day. Black people are three times more likely to be killed than White people, with 6.6 deaths per one million people. Also, 17% of of Black victims from 2013-2019 were unarmed. The disturbing fact is that where people live matter. For example, in Oklahoma, Black people are six times more likely to be killed by a police officer than states like Georgia (31.2 deaths/million and 5.2 deaths/million, respectively). The reason being is because Oklahoma has a 74.2% White population and 7.8% of black people compared to Georgia has 60.5% of White people and 32.4% Black people. Unfortunately, there is no accountability for the corrupt police officers; the same study states that “99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime.”

Based on history we see as time progresses freedom takes on a new definition and today, freedom takes on a new meaning, which is the right to be alive. No matter what definition of freedom we take, one thing will forever stay the same: all citizens have the right to be free.