Today, I marched at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth airport to protest the administration’s sudden immigration ban. It’s my second protest march ever, following quickly on the heels of my first, when I participated in the women’s march last weekend.
If this trend keeps up, my partner and I may be marching in protests every weekend for awhile. Being from Birmingham, AL, I’m starting to see this as less of a burden and more of my civil duty.
You see, my hometown celebrates civil protest in a major way. Pivotal moments of the civil rights era happened right here in my town–MLK’s “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, the bus boycotts, 16th St Baptist Church bombing, that picture of the boy being attacked by police dog at a protest (link here). I’ve marched next to the Civil Rights Museum. Even our airport is named for Fred Shuttlesworth, a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s that helped to shape my hometown and home country into what it has been for the last 50 years.
Protest isn’t just a part of my heritage: it’s my duty as a son of this town. Civil protest has a place when bigotry and xenophobia take center stage. It’s not about black or white or brown, Muslim or Christian, man or woman for me–protest is about rights. It’s about dignity and respect for my fellow man. It’s about telling the people in charge that this aggression will not stand, man. My fellow Americans deserve respect. Women deserve respect. Immigrants deserve respect. Basic human rights are non-negotiable, and I will protest to defend them.
My city of Birmingham has seen all of this protesting done before me. I’ve learned from our history about the power of civil protest, of standing up for our fellow man. I’m just doing my part to carry on my city’s legacy.