Submitted into Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about activism.... view prompt



Postwar America in its full glory. The veterans of World War Two and the Korean Conflict moving to newly constructed suburban neighborhoods with their wives and young children, living in rows of identical houses. The promise if the American dream and a growing middle class keep citizens in the mindset that all is well and that everyone’s worries are behind them. This is the face of a wealthy country with a smile painted on to let the world know, “we are alright!” While men go to work with their wives drinking throughout the day to cope with the loneliness and monotony of housekeeping, a growing unrest is developing unseen to the average American.

             Discussions scored by jazz music with the haze of marijuana and cigarette smoke are happening in little clubs dotted around metropolitan areas. Slam poetry and new ideas being written and performed. Bloodshot eyes reading manifestos that are held with nicotine-stained fingers. Little books in red covers begin to make their way around the underground social circles. Young adults, following the examples of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, disillusioned by the empty promise of the American way. Trading materialism and conformity for spiritualism and expression. A bohemian lifestyle unwelcomed by the so-called “hard working American.”

In one such club, a discussion heats up as motivation and inspiration begin to rise in the drunken hearts of these members of the beat generation.

“We need to fight the system through civil unrest,” a man says between drags of a cigarette. His spoken opinion is greeted silent nods from multiple individuals in the dark room.

“No, the peaceful route doesn’t work. We need to take action! Fight for our cause,” a young woman calls from the back. A few people give a cheer to show their approval of her stance.

More suggestions happen. Thumping bass with a booming drum increase tempo as trumpets and saxophones grow louder. The mentality of the room frenzies to coincide with the music. A summit of black people and white people, sitting together, sharing tables and drinks, passing tobacco and marijuana cigarettes amongst groups. A scene otherwise unheard of in the current state of the country. A group of individuals of differing skin color and ethnicity all under one roof, brought together by a shared goal of integration. No more “separate but equal.” Only equal. A new chapter in a story that has been going on since well before any of these people were born and would go on for years after they had passed.

A handsome boy of around twenty-three years stands up nervous but inspired. “We need to show this country that just because we may look different on the outside, doesn’t mean that we are any more or less human than each other.” He sits down, red in the face for speaking to the large group.

“It’s time we start acting towards our goal,” a tall strong figure stands up. “We have spent months discussing our views, we need to start showing this country what we think. They’re already making headway in the southern towns. Now is our chance!”

“What should we do to get the people’s attention?” an unseen female asks with intrigue.

Another young woman vacates her seat to speak up, “We stage a peaceful protest. Stand outside of city hall with our arms interlocked to show solidarity.” A flame ignites in the people of the group. They like this idea. “Show the government that blacks and whites working together is strength,” she closes her contribution to the meeting. The majority of the crowd has been won over on her idea.

“What if the police come and use violence on us?” a man asks anonymously from his seat.

“We let them,” someone else answers across the room. “If we show peace in the face of violence, all it does is add fuel to our fire. It shows that we will take what the government wants to give us until we get what we are fighting for.”

“We need to make a statement even grander than that,” a voice speaks, “burn down city hall! We will get their attention that way.”

A girl with thick-rimmed glasses and beret in her head replies to the last person to speak, “If we use arson or any other act of violence, our cause will be looked at as a criminal organization,” she says, “and we will not get our message out. If we take the peaceful approach, then they have no choice but to hear our message. If we unify as one in the face of threat, we can’t fail.”

The next question is when they protest should happen. Many people start to feel the excitement grow in them. The pent-up energy escaping in the firms of cheering and the occasional first hitting a table to emphasize a point.. These people wanted their voice heard, black and white. No more war or shining illusions, just reality and the belief that all men are equal.

A date and time are eventually set for the protest in all out preparedness for what is to come. The group is ready to take on clubs, dogs, firehoses, and anything else that the town will want to throw at these young men and women. If they stand united, then their message to end segregation will be out. These “beatnicks” are the beginning of a revolution in America. The foundation for mindset and culture that will consume the country in another eight years. This is a group working as part of an overall movement to make their country a better place for all its people regardless of race. The first step of a long journey for many of these individuals that would continue the legacy for many years.

A journey spanning over 150 years. From the Civil War to the 2020’s, walls being broken down by brave individuals striving to make the world a better place for their children and their children’s children. Strength from numbers and their own determination to fix the problems they see for their nation. Strong unity and loud voices in numbers ensuring that their groups will continue to go on until America has made their errors right.



June 08, 2020 12:41

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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