Rosa Parks on a bus. Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Olympics. North Carolina A&T students at the Woolworth’s counter. So many before. So many before. But now we have football players in stadiums. The act of peaceful protest is a major fiber in the tapestry that American history. Unfortunately, some people have forgotten that. There are many people who are vexed, angered, offended, and incensed by the quiet and focused actions giving rise to the issue and spotlight to the issue of police brutality and the African American community.
Ask any middle school scholar and they’ll tell you that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution secures the individual’s freedom of speech. The term is thrown around like a…pardon the pun…a football but what does it mean? According to the U.S. courts, Freedom of Speech includes but not limited to:
- The right to be quiet (not to salute the flag) – WV Board of Education v. Barnett (1943);
- Students wearing black armbands to protest the war – Tinker v. Des Moines (1969);
- Contribute money to political campaigns – Buckley v. Valeo (1976).
Oh…there’s another one. To engage in symbolic speech (like flag burning and taking a knee) (1990).
Perhaps the challenge for those who jeer and curse those who participate in silent protest is that they have a problem with the word protest. Rather than send the message of football players protesting would there be more opportunities for understanding if the text was men, who play football, stand up for what they believe is right? This is America. Standing up for what we believe is right is what we do. That’s why we argue with umpires. That’s why we send letters to the editor. That’s why we go to our children’s school to meet with the principal when there is a false accusation.
So, here are a few reminders that we as Americans really do love, respect, and cherish our First Amendment and standing up for what’s right. It is proven almost every weekend at the movies. Yes…the movies. There are many, many films in realistic and interpretive forms of the American value of standing up for what is right no matter the odds. These films run the gamut from doing well to exceptionally well. The message is always, Do the Right Thing, Stand and Deliver, Walk the Line with Pride, and Never Back Down.
Here is my reminder to all patriots who desire to suppress the rights of those you disagree with. After you look over this list, remember…you don’t have to stand up and cheer for what others do…but you don’t have to close the curtains on them either.
|Braveheart||Tells the story of the legendary thirteenth-century Scottish hero named William Wallace. Wallace rallies the Scottish against the English monarch and Edward I after he suffers a personal tragedy by English soldiers. Wallace gathers a group of amateur warriors that is stronger than any English army.||210 M|
|The Patriot||Benjamin Martin, an unassuming man who is forced to join the American Revolution when the British threaten to take his farm away from him. Together with his patriotic son, Gabriel, the pair faces the vicious Redcoats with a heroism that reflects the stubborn pride of a young country’s most dedicated supporters.||215M|
|Rocky||Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed.||117M|
|Star Wars||Rebels take on the Empire. (You know the saga)||307M|
|Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring||Small group takes on evil Sauron’s army||315M|
|The Breakfast Club||Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal.||90M|
|Erin Brockovich||Erin Brockovich is an American legal clerk and environmental activist, who, despite her lack of formal education in the law, was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in 1993.||253M|
|300||Legend of Spartans taking on the great army of Persia.||210M|
|Tucker||Tucker is determined to create a futuristic car for the masses: the Tucker Torpedo. However, his dreams are challenged by Detroit’s auto manufacturers, production problems and accusations of stock fraud, and he is forced to defend his dream and honesty in court.||19M|
|Silkwood||This drama is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, who works at a nuclear facility, along with her boyfriend, Drew Stephens, and their roommate, Dolly Pelliker. When Karen becomes concerned about safety practices at the plant, she begins raising awareness of violations that could put workers at risk. Intent on continuing her investigation, Karen discovers a suspicious development: She has been exposed to high levels of radiation.||35M|
|Born on the Fourth of July||In the mid-1960s, suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic enlists in the Marines, fulfilling what he sees as his patriotic duty. During his second tour in Vietnam, he accidentally kills a fellow soldier during a retreat and later becomes permanently paralyzed in battle. Returning home to an uncaring Veterans Administration bureaucracy and to people on both sides of the political divide who don’t understand what he went through, Kovic becomes an impassioned critic of the war.||70 M|
Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim. He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.