Frustrated with America's 'progress' on race? James Baldwin described it perfectly over 30 years ago.
via James Baldwin Project

The disturbing footage of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the throat of George Floyd and suffocating him to death has provoked painful reactions for millions of people across the nation.

But one of the most frustrating is that it's forced us to ask ourselves, "Why is this still happening?"

Author and civil rights activist James Baldwin addressed the glacial pace of American racial progress over 30 years ago in a clip that was aired in the 1989 PBS documentary James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket.


Sadly, his assessment of this country back in '80s would be shockingly similar if he were alive to see the events of today. Baldwin passed away in 1987.

James Baldwin: How Much Time Do You Want For Your "Progress?" www.youtube.com

"What is it that you wanted me to reconcile myself to? I was born here more than 60 years ago. I'm not going to live another 60 years," he said. "You always told me that it's going to take time."

"It's taken my father's time, my mother's time, my uncle's time, my brothers' and my sisters' time, my nieces and my nephew's time," he continued. "How much time do you want for your progress?"

The clip began circulating on Thursday after Quasim Rashid, a candidate for the House of Representatives, used it as a response to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he will not "rush to justice" on charges against Chauvin.


Badwin eloquently and passionately described the paranoia he feels living as a black man in America on a 1968 episode of the The Dick Cavett Show. He was on a panel with Yale Professor Paul Weiss who asked him, "So why must we always concentrate on color?"

Baldwin responded saying he left America for Paris in 1948 to escape its "particular social terror, which was not the paranoia of my own mind, but a real social danger visible in the face of every cop, every boss, everybody."

Sadly, Baldwin's words still ring true today.

Baldwin on Dick Cavett www.youtube.com

True

When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

Keep Reading Show less