Springfield NAACP: Dreams Deferred in Ferguson Have Begun to Explode

Aug 17, 2014

A poster at a memorial for Michael Brown outside the Canfield Green apartment complex.
Credit Mary Delach Leonard / St. Louis Public Radio

In her first statement since the riots following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson on August 9, the president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP expressed anger from the events that have unfolded there.

“How do I put in one article the causes and effects of a lifetime of inequalities for people of color?” Asked Cheryl Clay in a release issued Saturday, noting her struggles to formulate a statement about the shooting of Michael Brown.

“How do I explain how it feels to have no hope and everyday situations that confirm this hopelessness? How do I explain a lifetime of trying to survive, always aware of having to overcome stereotypes and bias?”

Her questions came before another night of violence and arrests, after some refused a midnight-5 a.m. curfew imposed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Clay said the trend of law enforcement using deadly force on unarmed citizens alarms her, is frightening as the mother of a black son, and makes her angry.

More from Cheryl Clay:

For a week I have been angry that once again a mother has to bury her son, her child who was killed by an officer who was hired to serve and protect the community. For a week I have been angry that men of color are expendable because of stereotyped and biased thinking. The police are supposed to protect, but people of color are advising their children to be aware of the deadly trend that is occurring in our society. What is wrong with our society that some will justify this killing? Ferguson, Missouri, is a prime example of a community that is tired, a community that has had enough.

Ferguson, Missouri, is an example of a dream deferred as Langston Hughes wrote in his 1951 poem, “Harlem”: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?" This is 2014, and I believe that the dreams deferred in Ferguson have begun to explode.

As our nation looks on, may Missouri begin to heal and may dialogue continue. The killing of unarmed citizens is unacceptable, and I can only pray for our state and our nation if these tragedies continue.