By: Evelyn Maben-Hall

Evelyn Maben-Hall

“With Liberty and Justice for All.”

These words weigh heavy on my heart every time I hear and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.

I once believed as a people, we had progressed from servitude to becoming a people of free will, who were beginning to advance and become accepted as equals, under most circumstances, and would continue toward all-inclusive liberty and justice.

Therefore when I hear former President Obama being criticized for accepting $400,000 to address Wall Street about health care, a subject he has demonstrated he is passionate about, when Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), both representatives I respect and admire, criticize our first African-American president for something that other presidents have done without repercussions, and when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) says he wants to change the laws to prevent Obama from receiving his full pension, I cringe, and anger seeps through my very being, as I contemplate where justice lies.

Is the “justice” referred to in our pledge of allegiance based upon creed, color or religion? Do the same rules apply to all?  I think not. Former presidents Clinton and both Bushes received compensation for addressing Wall Street. Neither stood up against Wall Street the way former President Obama did. What is the difference? All males, all intelligent. What is the one major difference?

During moments of racial disparity I am saddened yet not fearful, because during my childhood racial discrimination was the norm, and was accepted by many of our elders in a small West Virginia coal-mining town, who felt powerless.  

I am not fearful because later in life I realized as Dr. Martin Luther King said,”The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

I have followed that gradual bend toward justice. Yet, I felt a sense of deja’ vu when a relative who is an educator informed me about a young black girl being advised by a peer that she belonged on the back of the bus after the November election. Similar occurrences have been reported by the media.

Tears fall from my eyes when I think about an intelligent, middle-class bilingual mother,  who realizes her children are competing in a global economy where many foreign children speak several languages, yet she fears teaching her children Spanish, her native language, because she justifiably fears they will be teased and harassed by other students.

As I heard a minister say, “If you peel the skin, we are all the same. We bleed red, our internal organs are the same, we breath the same air.”

For those who claim exclusive liberty and justice, I recommend you read Biblical truth and not your interpretation.

Wake up, America. Let liberty and justice reign upon all people, without fear of condemnation based upon race, creed, color, gender, country of origin or sexual orientation. I have felt and lived under racial discrimination, but it was and is not embedded in me and will never be a part of my ideology. The Pledge of Allegiance does not specify “With liberty and justice for some.”