Sight or Vision? Which do you think bridges the gap to greatness?
On March 7, 1965 Amelia Boynton lay beaten and unconscious on the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma Alabama. That day an estimated 600 civil rights activists started out on a 54 mile march towards the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama to secure equal voting rights. Marchers only got as far as 6 miles before state police and local lawmen brutally beat them back with billy clubs and tear gas.
What keeps a person marching on?
In high school a teacher had us watch a documentary series titled, Eyes on the Prize. It covered the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights and other pivotal events of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1985.
As I sat in class watching the documentary for the first time I remember fighting back tears of anger, fear, and joy. I wondered if the activists of this movement had supernatural courage. I mean really what makes someone who has been oppressed and beaten down stand back up and march on? It’s been over 25 years since I first asked myself that question and today I know for sure the answer lies in having a vision.
Some have sight and others have vision
To have sight is to be able to see what’s in front of you. Having sight is both a blessing and a limitation because you can only see but so far with your eyes. Possessing vision is akin to having a superpower. This power is not limited to sight. Vision harnesses the imagination and creates a picture in the mind. A picture that is so clear and so full of possibilities that even when beaten down you find a way to stand back up and march into the vision.
Amelia Boynton would eventually stand up again. A newspaper photo of Boynton lying bloody and beaten drew national attention to the cause. Bloody Sunday prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, with Boynton attending as the landmark event’s guest of honor (source).
Creating a powerful vision:
As children we used our imagination multiple times a day while in play. We spent hours daydreaming and enjoyed every second of it. Do you still daydream? I do. At times I set a timer for 2-3 minutes and spend time in the vision (daydream). During this time I imagine what it looks like feels like, smells likes, sounds like, who’s there with me. I see myself happy, laughing and I try to capture the feeling before the timer alarm sounds. It’s an exercise I make a part of my daily routine.
5 questions to help shape vision
If you’re not quite sure what your vision is, ask ask yourself the following 5 questions:
Who am I? Why am I here? What kind of world do I want to live in? How will I get there? What am I willing to sacrifice?
As the month of February comes to a close so does Black History Month here in the United States. I am beyond grateful for the vision of my ancestors and the courage it took to carry it out. I am especially thankful to the men and women who fought alongside African-Americans in their struggle for freedom when they could have sat by and did nothing. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his famous “I Have a Dream” vision with the nation in 1963 nearly two years before Amelia Boynton set out on March 7, 1965. I imagine it was the strength of the vision that gave her the courage to take the first steps.