Op-Ed: Villaraigosa: We came together after the 1992 uprising. We can do it now.
I can’t believe how long it’s been. I’m here in San Francisco this week to speak as a representative for the Black Lives Matter grassroots organizing group and as a speaker in the 2018 State of the Union address by our nation’s next president. While this event is being presented by the organization Black Lives Matter as an opportunity to celebrate the history and significance of the protests of the past year and to highlight the importance of fighting for a more just and democratic society, truth is, I came here as a citizen. I live in a world where violence is a daily part of life, people are constantly being killed, arrested, wounded and imprisoned, and where even the concept of a day without a killing and violence seems remote. There’s a world that still seems like it can’t get better; a world that still can’t get free. But I am here to tell you, we can.
Here I am, I’m a white man who grew up in San Francisco in an era of racial inequality. My parents were both born in Jamaica, and they left that country in search of opportunity and freedom. My mother, a Jamaican-American, was hired in the middle of World War II by the war-time government of the US to build airplanes. She was able to build all of these planes without any qualifications. She used the time that she was able to take off and fly as much as she could to teach her kids. She and my father used what little money they had to move to California. My grandfather, as a man of the right kind of influence, was able to purchase real estate and build a factory, and with all of that he also sent my family to the US to find opportunity and to be free. When I was born in 1945, in the year that the United States took over from the Soviet Union, my family had all of the luxuries and trappings of a middle class life in America. The things I value most now aren’t the life-changing things but the things that make my life worth living — the things I can afford and the things that I value most are