He spoke of sacrifice. He spoke of love. He spoke of dreams fulfilled. He was Charles Jones, a civil rights activist with the wit to organize and the courage to partake in the mass sit-ins of Charlotte, North Carolina of 1960. In reflection of his highly decorated life, Mr. Jones showed no hesitation in expressing his emotions in their most raw form. He would begin a sentence with a laugh and end with tears, providing me a ticket to the only emotional rollercoaster I have ever been on. In conversation with Mr. Jones, there was an underlying theme of prophetic love of all people despite suffering terrorism by many.
I have often wondered if interspersed within those dreams is the increasing frequency of nightmares. He spoke of love; we practice love of self. He spoke of a dream of the “Beloved Community”; we dream of fancy cars. Mainly he spoke of the sacrifice of himself and many others based upon their vision for us. His words resonated much with Diane Nash’s “we loved you without knowing you.” I wonder if Mr. Jones worries that his accomplishments through sacrifice will be sacrificed by the youth to further their own personal success in life.
Mr. Jones and those who spent years in the trenches drive through the same streets we do. They witness the dilapidated housing, the practice of isolation over inclusion, and the crumbling of our families. Today was a true wake up call for me, one I intend on answering not only for myself, but also in tribute to those before me. I have a bag of quarters to make some calls, at least I know those on the bus will pick up the phone.