ABOVE: Roger leading senior citizen residents of Hampshire Village in a peaceful crossing of Norbeck Road to protest lack of sidewalks and accomodations
"I know Roger's commitment to progress and social justice. His heart beats for the people." - Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Civil rights are American rights. They make this country what we are, who we are, and all that we can and must be. And they’re worth fighting for.
I was born in UCLA Medical Center in 1966. My mom was a student activist, and my Dad was a carpenter. Mom and Dad were staunch believers in the progress that comes through peaceful protest, and they practiced that progressive theology at home when they tucked me in at night, on campus, and in the rallies that defined the 1960’s.
In 1968, when I was just 2, I was strapped to my Mom’s back when we were tear-gassed in Berkeley protesting the Vietnam War, fighting for peace, and standing for civil rights and the dignity of all people. I can’t say I remember that day, but that struggle for civil rights is never lost on me – and it burns inside of me, as it does within the soul of America. It’s the fire that burns for justice, and it can never end.
ABOVE: Roger receiving the Adrian Theophilus Westney Religious Freedom Award from Columbia Union Conference
Every American deserves to be treated fairly, equally, and with dignity.
That means a level playing field for everyone, free from bigotry and discrimination because of who they are, what they believe, what God they worship, or who they love.
That is the role of government.
It means protecting and expanding the right to vote in the face of callous attacks on one of the most precious and hard-fought rights in our democratic society.
It means finally ending the achievement gap, so that every child has the ability to achieve the American Dream, regardless of race or financial status.
It means a criminal justice system that is truly just and an end to mass incarceration and the war on drugs.
It means advancing opportunities for good jobs for all who choose to work hard and play by the rules.
It means safeguarding collective bargaining, recognized by the United Nations as a civil right, which is at the core of worker rights on the abolition of worker exploitation.
It means establishing, finally, that health care is a human right of every American.
ABOVE: Roger as a congressional staffer with members of Congress John Lewis (left), David Scott (center) and Sanford Bishop (right) during historic reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
And in the wealthiest nation in the world, it means ending the income inequality that continues to plague hundreds of millions of Americans, that from generation to generation, that erodes the promise that is the American Dream.
We’ve come so far, but we can not and will not rest until every person of color, woman, and religious minority has the same opportunities as any other American. That’s the America I believe in, and it’s worth fighting for.