The brutal killings of our black brothers and sisters have been overwhelming. Every day we are expected to turn a blind eye and put on our “professional” faces when we are breaking inside. We are tired and angry. We are upset that people are more outraged at protests than the killing of unarmed black people. Now is not the time that we remain silent. We did not go to law school to be silent; we went to be heard. Charles Hamilton Houston a renowned black lawyer who helped to dismantle Jim Crow, said it best, “A lawyer is either a social engineer — or a parasite on society.” We are demanding change within the criminal justice system and in our surrounding counties to combat the racial disparities faced by our people.

The pursuit of our common ideal, as expressed in the Constitution of the United States of America, has been defined by the struggles of and movements led by Black people, a fact not only in the American consciousness, but in the eyes of the World. Black lives unquestionably matter, as progenitors, crafters and builders of a yet unrealized American dream of equality, freedom and the unfettered pursuit of individual and community happiness.

What would the American historical and future narrative around freedom be were it not for slavery? What is equality in the context of white supremacy? How has the path to the pursuit of happiness been cut by redlining, Jim Crow, divestment, over-policing, over-incarceration, and voter suppression.

And today, how will this generation’s resistance to police brutality develop into expressions of equity and safety for every American life. Their actions are necessary, good trouble. People denounce the protests of black people and allies only to support and uphold armed marches by supremacists at government buildings.

What are black people to do in this time when others are calling right wrong and wrong right? We have been raised and taught to watch and pray. That’s all we could lawfully do for centuries. However, our people also united, strategized, and defied unjust laws to survive. As a Black people, we see a need to do the same again, now. Unite. Strategize. Defy. Black people who protest injustice don’t hate America.

Characterizing Black Lives Matter protests as roving lawless mobs and coupling that with an underlying denial of our humanity, is not just wrong, it is dangerous. The constant refrain that protestors are a threat and must be feared, easily gives way to vigilantism, and state-sanctioned violence, again and again. That mantra feeds a belief that reinforces subjugation and violence. As countless stories in history have already demonstrated, together, people of all colors, are coming together not only for ourselves but also for our children.

The Charles W. Williamson Bar Foundation Inc. (www.cwbfinc.org) is an association of African-American attorneys or judges practicing, retired or residing within of the 11th prosecutorial district of Vance, Warren, Person, Granville, and Franklin counties. We were founded to support practicing and aspiring attorneys. We are named after Charles W. Williamson, to whom we show our gratitude, as the first African-American attorney to practice in this district when he opened an office in Vance County in October 1933. He went on to practice in this area for over 50 years.

Beginning with this publication the CWBF will begin a series of opinion pieces related to issues in our communities, particularly the intersection of race and law. Our purpose is not to lecture or blame but to educate and hopefully stimulate conversation toward progress.

Early voting is Thursday, Oct. 15-Oct. 31.

North Carolina eligible voters can go to the Department of Motor Vehicles online website to either register to vote for the first time, change party affiliation or update their address. ALL ONLINE! If you need to change your name, you will need to submit a paper application and mail the application to your local Board of Elections. The paper application can also be printed from the DMV website as well.

To register to vote or update your information please visit: https://payments.ncdot.gov/.

Voters are not required to show photo ID until further order of the courts.

The deadline to request a ballot by mail or absentee ballot is (received by) Tuesday, Oct. 27, by 5 p.m.

To request an absentee ballot and for additional details, visit: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting.

You may also request an absentee ballot online here: https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home.