By Rosell Rivas, age 10 years old and Aisha Tabala age, 11
The 400 Years of Inequality project marks a painful anniversary in American history, when the first of millions of Africans were brought over as slaves to work on plantations established on land stolen from the indigenous peoples of the continent, now known as the United States.
The 400 Years of Inequality project observes and acknowledges what happened during the centuries since 1619, and it is trying to untangle the inequality that remains from that time so we can move toward a stronger society.
The observance is acknowledging the anniversary with a lot of events. One event was a hike named “Hiking for a Just Future,” which included a walk from Washington Heights to Union Square in New York City led by Columbia University professor Robert Fullilove.
In an interview with IndyKids at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center just before the walk, Al Taylor a pastor and politician, said that understanding and acknowledging the injustice and inequality in our history will give us the best chance of achieving equality now and in the future.
“This history of slavery … although we are not shackled in the physical sense, there’s a lot that still exists that tries to keep us from succeeding. So there’s discrimation in our housing, there’s disciminaton in our borders, and many other little nuances that try to keep us down. … Why are some communities not getting a quality education? All of this is related to racism and capitalism,” Rev. Taylor said.
“It’s important to tell the history and remember the story and how bad it was, and why we need to stay together and build, because if any of us is enslaved, then we are all enslaved. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, in order for evil to prevail, all it takes [is] for someone not to get engaged and not to do something about it.”
The 400 Years of Inequality project’s website has a page of resources so you can learn more about the country’s history, as well as activities so you can learn more about your own local history.
There is also a K-12 curriculum for teachers, an online course and a 400-year timeline of events that laid the foundation for the inequality that has been in American society since the 1600s.
“What Seeds Are We Planting as a Community, and How Are We Watering It?” – IndyKids Interviews The Peace Poets
Before heading out on the “Hiking for a Just Future” walk as part of the 400 Years of Inequality project, IndyKids reporters Aisha Tabala and Rosell Rivas spoke with the NYC-based Hip Hop collective The Peace Poets. The group was formed at the youth development organization in Harlem, Brotherhood/Sister Sol, and now they collaborate with community organizers to create poetry and songs to help them connect and communicate a message.
Stay tuned for audio!