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1 Legacy

Chapter

ong ago, sometime in the 13 th century, it is estimated thatin central India, the Bengal region of South Asia, people traveled through the damp forests and over flowing river deltas of this lush green territory in search of places to call home. Traders and merchants also journeyed this hazardous terrain, hoping to sell their goods. They often moved in large caravans, primarily for safety. They reasoned that the more people in the caravan, the less likely they would be the target of robbers and attackers. However, beyond the difficult landscape and unpredictable weather, a greater risk lurked on the countryside. Since there were several people moving through this

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area, one group in particular took advantage of this fact. They would make it look as if they were accompanying travelers, and just happened to be going to the same destinations. They would even join caravans with the promise of protection. Ultimately, when this group gained the trust of the explorers, they were unaware that their lives were soon to be sacrificed and their belongings taken away from them in the name of the imposters goddess. Just before sunset, a pre-appointed member of this group would take a thirtyinch long cloth, called a ruhmal, and wrap it around the neck of the unsuspecting travelers and strangle the life out of them. Before they buried the dead, they would break their bones and joints apart,and then slice open the bodies so theywould fit into the smallest holes in the ground. After the travelers had been buried, the killers would split up the goods and set aside a portion of the loot for their goddess.

Legacy

This organization of mass murderers would exist up until the 1830s when their British rulers finally upgraded the police force and initiated a widespreadoperation to eliminate them forever. Recognized today in the Guinness Book of Records as being responsible for the deaths of approximatelytwo million people, they were known as the Thuggees of India. From that time on, they would lend their name to define those in our society who assault, menace, con, kill, and steal from others,Thugs, and that was their legacy. Fast forward to 1993, when an intelligent, articulate, twenty-two year old poet, actor and rapper formed a group called Thug Life and inadvertently poured gasoline onto the already blazing fires of fragile teens across America feeling left out of mainstream society and longing to be a part of something or someone to identify with. The young mans name was Tupac Shakur, and with his chants of Thug Life and his boldly displayed

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THUGLIFE tattoo on his stomach, he would influence millions of youth around the world up until this very day. From the wealthiest of suburbs to the inner city projects, teens rushed to pledge their allegiance to the thug life. And so far, with the pen thats been passed down to us, we have written in our book of legacy much of the same legacy as those original Thuggees of India. Of course, I will always remember Tupac for his creative and artistic expressions; however, his life and music remain misunderstood. Most of Tupacs life and music was dedicated to changing and uplifting the community. Simply defined, legacy is what is passed down from generation to generation. It is what you will leave behind and are going to be remembered for. It is your accomplishments and failures. It is your imprint, and the difference you made in the lives of others. It is also lasting.

Legacy

Legacies are passed down with the intention of having made conditions better for the next generation. This happens when people actively create and implement strategies to ensure that those who come after, such as our children and grandchildren, can avoid the pitfalls of the past. Imagine just for a moment, that you were a child who was born a slave and forbidden from ever learning how to read a book. In fact, if you were ever caught in the possession of any type of reading material, you were immediately punished, either slapped in the face, or beaten with a whip. However, in order to make sure that those who come after you would one day be allowed this simple and basic right; to learn, you would go so far as to sacrifice your own life. First, you would give away a portion of your one and only daily meal to pay off the kids in the neighborhood who dared to teach you how to read.

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Years of beatings would not deter you. With the help of newspapers, political material, and other books, you would continue to grasp reading. The knowledge you gained only opened your eyesfurther and made you more determined to be free. After I would unite several with anybody to failed do right and with escape nobody to do attempts, wrong. you would Frederick finally, not Douglass only gain your freedom, but go on to become a successful publisher and editor of your own newspaper, best-selling author of multiple books, politician who held conferences with Presidents as well as the nations most recognized anti- slavery

Legacy

lecturer and spokesman, and one of the most prominent figures in African American history; Frederick Douglass, and this was his legacy. Young people, think for just a moment, how this man would feel now to know that after all of his sacrifice and suffering for the basic right to read and learn, many of you believe that reading and learning is not cool or keeping it real...Others of you have been deceived into believing that there is something wrong with striving to be smart and intelligent. What if you were a young man of more recent times who had been born during the rough period of the great depression, the youngest of eight children and living in the tough barrio section of Denvers north-eastside? Although your mother passed away when you were only two years old, and your family constantly moved to places where there was work available in the beet fields, you would remarkably manage to graduate from high school at

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the age of sixteen and even save money to attend college. Soon realizing that you would not be able to afford college, you would go on to become a top ranking boxer, winning the feather-weight title and becoming a Golden Gloves champion. You would eventually be inducted into Colorados Sports Hall of Fame. Ultimately, this would only be a fraction of the legacy you would leave behind. As a result of the stories of conquest and victories attained by your ancestors, told to you by your own father, and your concern for the injustices facing Mexican Americans, particularly the youth, your legacy would be defined by the impact you had on transforming your community into proud and courageous people. You would then go on to create an urban, civil rights and cultural movement called the Crusade for Justice.You would even create the first ever annual Chicano Youth Liberation Conference to create greater unity among your youth.

Legacy

Looking to develop economic stability and social acceptance, you would even create a private school that would focus on building students self-esteem through a culturally-relevant curriculum. The legacy you would leave behind would be that of a leader in the community and youth organizations, political activist, and civil rights activist; Rodolfo Corky Gonzalez. Young people, if you were Mr. Gonzalez, how would you feel, to know that after all of your efforts to stop the injustices aimed at your people, years later, your own youth would be the ones weakening the communities by way of gang violence and drug dealing? You must all know that whether youre African American, European, Latino or Asian, all of our forefathers left a legacy of bravery and triumph; however, their victories were achieved through much suffering. Millions upon millions of our ancestors sacrificed and lost their lives in

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an attempt to secure the futures of those they left behind. Seeking freedom and having suffered the toll of wars, economic deprivation, and religious persecution from the church, many of your ancestors crossed thousands of miles of ocean seeking independence. Starting with the first president of the United States, George Washington, who led the Americans to a victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War to other prominent men such as Benjamin Franklin, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, their legacy was establishing this countrys independence from their former rulers. Our ancestors also left a legacy of extraordinary innovation and technological advancement. Without the intelligence and creativity of our ancestors, we may not as of yet, be able to travel over paved roads in machines that move at the push of a pedal. We still might not be able to speak

Legacy

to each other at any time over an invisible transmitted signal. If it wasnt for the genius of our forefathers, we might not be able to illuminate the darkness of our communities and homes. Our ancestors strived to make things better for the next generation. Legacies are created by actions, and behaviors. This is particularly important, because whether you like it or not, African American, Mexican, European or Asian, you are the face of your family and the whole community. People who dont look like you will judge and define each and everyone in your family and community by your actions. When you deal drugs, some people will believe that everyone who looks like you deals drugs. If youre a thief, others will believe that this is what all the people in your community do. If youre violent and reckless, some will believe youre all violent and reckless.

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When you and your communitys legacy are looked back on, this is what they will be remembered for. If you would like to create a legacy of greatness, start by knowing that we were all created to contribute, not take away from the foundations that make our communities strong. Think about this for just a moment. Would it have made sense for the most of us to have been created with the capabilities to breathe, think, see, hear, touch, speak, walk and reproduce for us to fail? That wouldnt make sense. If we had been created for failure, we would not have been created with these gifts. These gifts were given to all of us so that we could brighten the path for the others who come behind us. Young people ask yourselves, what type of legacy do you want to leave behind?

Legacy

Right now, you still have the opportunity to pick up that pen and piece of paper to create your own legacy.

I shed tears of anguish as I see my children disappear Behind the shroud of mediocrity never to look back to remember me. I am Joaquin. I must fight and win this struggle for my sons, and they must know from me who I am."(From "I am Joaquin/Yo soy Joaquin") by Rodolfo Gonzales)