“He Made a Difference”
Many of us loved to love him. Others of us loved to hate him. Some of us were just neutral. Regardless of how you felt about Reverend Louis Coleman, everyone should agree that he spoke up for the rights of others – especially African Americans.
I was saddened to hear the news of his death on Saturday afternoon. He was a close friend of my family and they always referred to him by his nickname “Buster”. My grandmother had been a member at his church. “Buster” was even a part of the funeral service for my father, grandmother, uncle and other relatives. Whenever someone needed him at their side, he was always there.
I can’t honestly say that I didn’t agree with everything Rev. Coleman did. There were some times that I would watch the news and wonder why he was making such a fuss. It could have been the smallest issue, but in his eyes, no cause was too small. I’d watch the infamous bullhorn as he and a group of protestors marched around various streets and buildings in the state. If there was injustice going on, you can bet your money that Louis Coleman was there.
The weird thing I realized, though, was that although sometimes controversial, Rev. Coleman was the most dependable civil rights activist in our area. If I read a headline in the CJ that sounded controversial, I knew without a doubt that Rev. Coleman would be one of the first people there to represent the ‘unheard voice’. He never let me down. He didn’t care if you were black/while, rich/poor. If an issue needed to be brought to the surface, Louis Coleman carried the life preserver to keep it afloat. WHO NOW WILL REPRESENT THAT VOICE?
Louis Coleman and his groups spoke my voice, even at times when I wasn’t willing to speak for myself. I never personally protested, even when I knew there needed to be change. You have to admire the strength he had for standing loud, strong and proud – even though it was often taken for granted. But who is going to fill his shoes from our generation? I think about my generation and wonder what are we really doing to strengthen ourselves and those around us? We grew up and now live in an environment where we can flourish and are for the most part considered equal. It hasn’t always been that way. It hasn’t been that way for long. We still continue to have struggles (just ask the folks out in our state that say they’ll never vote for a black person for president).
What will it take for us to be willing to take those stands for ourselves? How can we better ourselves to speak out for the ‘unheard voices’? What do we need to do to ensure our continued progress? How can we strengthen the entire African American community while decreasing the violence, disease, single parent homes and lack of education? I know I don’t have the answers to all of these questions. Hopefully as I go through life, I can be part of the solution! Whoever knew that the death of our local civil rights leader would affect me in such a way?!
M.Y. July 2008