There is a long tradition of solidarity between Black Americans and those in the white, dominant group who stood beside their Black brothers and sisters regardless of being shunned by their white counterparts. From the abolitionists during the 17th-19th centuries to the rabbis who marched with Martin Luther King Jr., in the voting booth, on the Freedom Rides, in the halls of power, and in neighborhoods, shared power has been a strategy for building the beloved community and for political and economic progress. In the story of Ax Handle Saturday and the sit-in demonstrations, there were several white accomplices and allies. The experiences of Richard Parker and Reverend Charles White McGehee stand out.
But individual acts of anti-racist work have not made up for the systemic racism that divides people and continues to oppress Black and Brown people. While white people built the walls of white supremacy, they must be engaged in tearing them down. So we continue to look for those white accomplices who are taking action, while not centering their voices, fears, and needs.
Solidarity is more evident in today’s movement than ever before, with more resources to support the unlearning and relearning that is necessary for white people to authentically engage. During the Summer of 1960, solidarity came from places as diverse as judicial chambers and pulpits to the courageous acts of individuals who sat in and stood up for equity.
In the voice of Rodney L. Hurst Sr., from his book, It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®!