Images of the American Civil Rights movement both terrify me and make me proud.
They terrify me because of the brutality shown to people of color. They make me proud because the images are so distant from my children’s America that they require explanation.
Not long ago I watched the Freedom Riders documentary with my children. The Freedom Riders were a group of blacks and whites who set out to ride commercial buses across the South in order “to challenge local laws…that enforced segregation in seating.”
In the documentary it is sobering to watch a modern-day interview with John Patterson, the governor of Alabama during the Freedom Riders demonstration. In the interview Patterson admits that he was wrong to have labeled the Freedom Riders rebels, and if he had it to do over again he would support the Riders.
History is full of people who were first labeled rebellious but were later called pioneers. (click to tweet)
It’s easy to see now that leaders like Governor Patterson were on the wrong side of history, but what about in your organization or community?
How can you tell if a non-conformist is being rebellious or pioneering?