Spartacus is a name for anyone who fights against injustice, oppression, and inequality; who stands against powerful forces even when it’s dangerous to do so. If you’ve seen the film Spartacus, you’ll understand the allusion, but I believe the concept is vital to progressive change. Women can vote – but not because they asked for it politely. African Americans aren’t getting their heads smashed in quite as often anymore – but not because they submitted a petition. Gays are winning the right to marry across the country – but not because they sat around, twiddling their thumbs.
Instead, that progress required collective organization, passionate dedication, and lifetimes of hard work. It required people to suffer excommunication from their loved ones; to live every moment in fear; to be brutalized and beaten; to risk death and assassination. Fighting for justice and equality isn’t easy or inevitable – it is ugly, dangerous, and degrading.
That is why we need people like Spartacus: brave people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for change. Not all of us can live up to that ideal, but the more we try, the more likely we are to win the change we all need and deserve.