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For years upon years, cultures have been discriminated against by those in positions of power for the sole reason of their being different. Key examples are racial segregation in the United States of America, the apartheid regime in South Africa, and most notably, the segregation and massacre of Jews and undesirable types in Nazi Germany. Even in the sovereign lands of Australia, we had the White Australia Policy and the Stolen Generation.

Racism used to be an ingrained and normalized aspect of society, where it was not frowned upon, and even encouraged to sling racial insults at people who were not of the white race. However, society has evolved, and racism is a thing of the past. After constant outcry for social justice and equality from oppressed minorities, people have banded together and have taken steps in the right direction to unite all creeds under one banner and live in harmony.

For years, campaign after campaign for racial equality has been launched, with Martin Luther King Jr being amongst the most prominent voices in the campaign for racial equality. His speech, “I Have A Dream” spurred the masses and converted those with hard-set racially charged hatred, to quit their close-minded behaviors, and live in harmony with those beside them.

All of the prominent examples, each share one common factor, one group of people being discriminated against by another group of people, who hold power and can influence the masses, however, if there is anything that mankind detests more than anything, it is being oppressed and held down, when opportunities are out there and can be reached if everyone works towards the same common goal. The world we live in today has been locked in a state of societal civil war, with hate crimes, racial violence, and blatant discrimination rampant, yet so many stand idle, with nothing more to say.

What this speech aims to talk about, is the people who went against the grain, the people who stood up and said something, even when nobody else did. The people who fought for what is right, not what others wanted. Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, the list goes on. These people braved the backlash from those opposed to them and stood firm, each of them originally an oppressed minority, who struggled to be listened to, who all banded together and pushed forward to unite all creeds.

Let’s take Maya Angelou for example. A woman refused access to education and freedom of choice for jobs, social activities, and many things that white Americans took for granted. Even publishing her first book took longer than it would for other artists, only because of her gender and race. But did she let that stop her? No, she rose from the ashes and became a published author, and started her journey as a civil rights activist, not only for Black America but all those who face oppression in their lives.

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Let’s have a look at the opening stanza of one of her most well-known works, I Rise.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Every single person mentioned so far has been treated like garbage and thrown to the wayside, they didn’t allow this to keep them down, they rose from the ashes and continued fighting and didn’t stop until they achieved their goals.

We, as the next generation must take up the slack in the rope and stand up for what we believe in, just like Martin Luther King Jr and Maya Angelou, we need to fight for the rights of everyone and join together in harmony, because regardless of your gender, nationality, sexuality or beliefs, every single person deserves equality. Now is not the time to be racist or sexist, it’s time to be an equalist. For tomorrow is a new day, because the future is just around the corner.

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