Pop Culture: The Future of Civil Rights

The following are notes taken from William Stephney’s talking points at the US Civil Rights Commission’s event “A New Era: Defining Civil Rights in the 21st Century.”  Mr. Stephney is the Principal Executive of Joseph Media.

Conceived in Segregation

Stephney begins by describing his parents’ honeymoon, a road trip through a series of segregated hotels, on which Stephney himself was conceived.  Segregation did not end so long ago; it continues to color this day and age.

Pop Culture and Government

Pop culture comes from kids’ reaction to the environment in which they’re raised.  Compare the juxtaposition of the “we shall overcome” mentality of the mid-60’s, before the devolution of the family, to some forty years later, when young rappers are burning albums called “Get Rich, or Die Trying.”  Unfortunately for most black Americans, it is not so uncommon to die trying to get rich.

Government can not negotiate or provide anything for that disparity.  What government can do is to engage us in conversation.  Government can spur conversation.

Government can help move pop culture along.   Through collective action we can create a discussion.  Look at us today, at a government institution-hosted talk, through which the family unit has reentered the discussion for the first time in many years.

The power of government is to inspire the individual, and we should consciously employ government institutions to that end.


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