With the celebration of Independence Day and President Trump’s international trip to the G-20 Summit, I couldn’t help but reflect upon a recent conversation I had with one of my “Hollywood” friends.
This friend is a self-proclaimed liberal and sees absolutely no value in anything Republican. I remember having many conversations with him during last year’s presidential campaign and talking to him about Trump’s tagline, “Make America Great Again.”
Even though I’d heard his retort before from liberals, both black and white, I was still shocked when he asked, “When was America ever great?”
When I’ve heard this response from liberals in the past, it’s usually followed with ad hominem attacks on America, beginning with slavery, then Jim Crow, segregation, police killings of unarmed blacks, etc.
These assertions are undeniably factual, but to end there is like reading the first chapter of a book that opens with a murder and concluding that the whole book is about that one event.
Slavery and racism are still the biggest blemishes on America’s history, but because we are Americans and showed resolve, we also have one helluva redemption story to tell. We have come a long way from the days of slavery and Jim Crow.
Here are a few questions for my liberal friends. If America is so racist, how did we elect a black man as president? If America is so racist, how did we have two consecutive black secretaries of state (Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice)? If America is so racist, how did we have two consecutive attorneys general (Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch)? If America is so racist, how are African-Americans making millions of dollars in sports, music, business and technology?
Name me one other major power that can make the claim that black people have these opportunities in their country. Germany can’t. Britain can’t. China can’t. Australia can’t. France can’t. I think you get my point.
During a time when all Americans should be celebrating the progress we’ve made as a nation on our journey towards redemption, liberals seem to want to focus on our past.
So, to answer my Hollywood friend’s original question, my response is very simple.
America was great when former President Lincoln freed the slaves. America was great when Congress passed the Civil and Voting Rights Acts in the ’60s. America was great when they elected the first black president in 2008. America was great when we witnessed, yet again, the peaceful transfer of power to Donald Trump from Barack Obama, despite just witnessing one of the nastiest presidential elections in our nation’s history.
America will always be great as long as we accept the will of the American people when it comes to our free and fair elections. You don’t have to like the choice, but you must accept the result.
This is what makes America great.
Has America lived up to the words in the Declaration of Independence?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
No, we still have a long way to go, but we have made remarkable progress.
Isn’t it amazing that the very liberals who criticize this country never, ever seriously consider leaving the country? Despite all of our nation’s faults, where else could those liberals go and still have this type of freedom and opportunity?
We must get back to our founding principles; love of God, love of country; and love of our people.
Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington made this point in a phenomenal graduation speech he gave two years ago to the students of Dillard University in New Orleans, one of our nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). It was one of the shortest yet most powerful speeches I have ever heard.
Liberals must stop obsessing about America’s racial past and focus on America’s promise. We must not live our lives in fear of loss; we must live our lives in hope of gain.
America is not as bad as it used to be and not as good as it can be.
It’s like President Obama said: “We are the change that we seek.”
Liberals are great at complaining about problems, but rarely, if ever, provide any practical solutions to their complaints.
On this day and every day, we have the freedom to be free. Respecting this freedom, for everyone, is how we all can truly “Make America Great Again.”
Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 super PAC established to get more blacks involved in the Republican Party.