In September 1999, Harland C. Stonecipher gave a speech that opened with a passage from Isaiah Chapter 8, verse 6, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
He did so because he was preparing for a call to action. Today the words and spirit of Harland Stonecipher, the founder of LegalShield, will ring through my voice today.
Anyone that knows me knows that I love the United States of America. This country offers more freedom, more opportunity than any other country in the world! This is a country that promises to offer each of us the ability to succeed and achieve as much as our desire and abilities will allow us. The promise is for everyone. It is the United States Constitution. The only limits in America should be those we place upon ourselves.
But today, but not just today, for more than 200 years, we realize that there is a problem with this promise; the promise of freedom and opportunity is being broken by limits to our equality and barriers to full and fair justice!
My friends, we can focus upon the evil or selfish parts of our natures. That’s one explanation of why things must change. Another argument is that the Age of Enlightenment – with the writing of Adam Smith, John Locke, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau – have outlived their usefulness but unfortunately their influence is still felt today. The Enlightenment created the social contract which led to the separation of citizens from social and political life – things like elected government through representatives, but more importantly, the division of labor. The Enlightenment successfully argued that each of us had worth according to our economic contribution to more output. Indeed, the Enlightenment created career politicians – the people did not directly participate. Instead, the professional position of a politician was created to handle that for us. A final consideration on why we are in our present state is that government is just too big – local government, including the police, and state government, and federal government. Harland argued that “Any nation, the older they get, the more personal liberties they give up."
This nation was founded with the desire to create a better society; a better political and economic life. But the U.S. Constitution did not originally include women and it did not include African-Americans in that system. But the promise was written and it has been amended – equal access to the Liberty, Equality, Opportunity and Justice for all; for everyone.
IF I COULD CHANGE THE WORLD - wave a magic wand and "poof" it would change - what would I do? I would ensure that our system of government would function as intended. I would change our personal attitudes to respect the basic human rights of every citizen. To respect the human rights of every citizen regardless of race, religion, background, economic status, age group or gender. I'm talking about civil rights and I'm talking about human rights of the economically disadvantaged; the disenfranchised.
It must be the right of every American, black, white, brown, rich or poor not to be deprived of hope. Those who know they are deprived of justice are deprived of hope. Without equal justice there can be no hope. Those who feel they are deprived of equality are deprived of hope. Without equality and opportunity there can be no hope. But we can change that - you and I. We can do it; not next week, next month, but right now. Langston Hughes said it best, “Let America be America again.”
We provide hope. We provide equal access to justice and opportunity. We have the power to face and reject hate and depravity. We have the power to reject ideas that dehumanize us as cogs in the machine. We can choose to live a full-life of social and political engagement. We can fulfill the promise of the U.S. Constitution. This is what we do at LegalShield. This is our just cause.
“Equal Justice Under Law” is the inscription on the west wall of the Supreme Court building. But there is just one problem with that promise; it is just not true. It should say Equal Justice Under Law unless you are a person of color, a woman, or poor. That’s not what it says, but it should because that would be the truth!
Racism must end. Profiling of any group is insidious and should be stopped. We must stop it and we can stop it with the Legal Shield. Harland Stonecipher railed against the crime of DWB - Driving While Black. He said it must be stopped but it has not! Every American regardless of race, color, creed or economic status cannot allow this to continue! It is UNAMERICAN. It is a violation of our Constitution. Even as things are changing for the better, in the 20 years since Harland Stonecipher made the call for change IT HAS NOT CHANGED ENOUGH! If we don't know our rights – then we don't have any.
We know the answer. We can empower people with our membership. We provide the LegalShield. Empowerment is hope. Our work is to keep hope alive; to go past survive and to thrive! We must again believe in America because we must work tirelessly to fulfill its promise for everyone. We are those frustrated and disenfranchised who will not remain silent. We must protect and empower more people to live a free and full life in America.
Dr. Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University said, "There is far too much law for those who can afford it and far too little for those who cannot." No one is satisfied with this state of affairs. More laws are not the answer. The answer is access. The answer is Equal Justice Under Law. And we have the answer.
Let me read to you what Vivian B. Martin wrote in the Baltimore Sun in her article Driving While Black, "Think what you want about black paranoia. It's necessary for survival." It should not be that way. It cannot be that way! The constitution was not written to permit that. It does not permit that.
There is more than adequate legal protection available to those who can access it. Access is the key. "Far too much law for those who can afford it and far too little for those who cannot." The legal system is based upon inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the face of relentless abuses by an ever-expanding government, our liberty is threatened, and you cannot pursue happiness if you live in fear! The opposite of the law is power. The opposite of freedom is subjugation. When government or companies or neighbors impose power in the place of law on you and your family and your community then you are not free. You are subjugated. Those with power use it for their interests and not for the people. As Harland said, "we have an opportunity to do something big for the little guy." There is a need for the “people's lawyers,” your lawyer and mine. LegalShield lawyers are warriors for our members. They do battle for our members every day - every hour. LegalShield lawyers don't judge us - they fight for us. But they can only fight for our members.
You have the ability to protect and empower individuals, people of color, women, those whose economic status is less than rich. You can give the ability to control their destinies, the ability to demand and receive equal justice under the law.
Let's do something big for the little guy. It is time to get fed up and fired up. I have said it before and I will say it again. We have a right to be angry. We have a right to feel frustration. We have a right to feel rage. But we must focus that into a positive energy for change. We must turn our hate into love and protect and empower more people. We must be angry that a system of justice that has become a system of injustice, but then focus our energy and efforts to lead the change.
You must challenge yourself to do more right now. It is the right of every American to equal justice regardless of race, color, creed, gender identity or economic status.
The color of freedom in America cannot be green. It must be red, white and blue!
Americans are being victimized every day. Because of the lack of access to the legal system. They are being humiliated, detained, falsely accused and yes denied of their very life. We can right this wrong! We must help people who are upset about what is being done -- everyone. I know many of us love Darnell Self, our Executive Vice President of Network and Business Development, Millionaire Club Member, and Platinum Executive Director; however, at the end of the day, he can take all of those "hats" off but he cannot take off the color of his skin. And if his skin causes him to be profiled, deemed a threat, or even murdered by unqualified, over aggressive, and perhaps racist police, then we have to agree that his life and the lives of others of OUR black community, matter.
Let's ask everyone to join our cause, more than just a great business opportunity. It is an opportunity for people to be a part of a cause, a mission.
Let's stop racism. Let’s actually do something about social injustice. Give everyone a shield. A shield to protect their God given rights and a shield to protect their rights as guaranteed by the constitution.
Isaiah said, " heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
Let me ask you the same question, who shall we send and who will go for out for us?
I ask why not you? Why not now? Who will stand for Equal Access to the Liberty, Equality, Opportunity and Justice that every human deserves? If you will stand for equal justice for all - stand now! Act now! Lead the Change!