Hands Up... Don't Shoot

This iconic image of protesters illustrates the generational impact of this event.  Younger protesters joined by an older protester to help hold up her hands.  The message between these generations is the same -- #JusticeForMikeBrown.

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has outraged the nation, as"Hands up, don't shoot!" becomes the mantra of those protesting the unarmed teenager's death.

ImageJames T. Ingram
,  a columnist for the St. Louis American, tweeted an arresting photo of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the comment, "Hands Up, don't shoot, Ferguson PD!" 
The events in Ferguson show that the racial inequality that King fought to eradicate endures to this day, especially with regards to the disproportionate number of Black men who are the victims of police violence.

MLK -- Bad check... marked insufficient funds

In the 1963 "I have a dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out the nature of the problems with inequality and injustice with a powerful metaphor:

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"

For every Black iconic success, there are many more whose situation seems more hopeless every day. The people of Jefferson, MO, young and old, are echoing that same sentiment today, following the death of Michael Brown.


Spike Lee, well known movie director, commented in a recent interview, "The Black underclass in America is growing every day."  For every Black iconic success, there are many more whose situation seems more hopeless every day. The gaps for many poor Black Americans are growing each day, not closing. This was true 50 years ago, and remains true for many today.

Unless the underlying issues are addressed, we are likely to see more troubling outbreaks  -- riots, not demonstrations; anarchy, not protests. Michael Brown's death is another wake up call that must be heeded to prevent further deterioration of the conditions for a large segment of the Black population.

We need solutions that meet the needs of our disaffected youth.  We need more effective dialog, not a more militarized police force. We need every citizen to become more involved, and not more isolated.  Dr. King's dream is not dead, but it may be on life support. We can still overcome. Yes we can.

Roger Madison, CEO
iZania, LLC