The 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Death; Protests in Sacramento over the Killing of Steven Clark, and EQ4ALL@LLS’s Second Year Telling the Stories of Individuals Committed to Fighting for Equality and Equity for All
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Tributes were held throughout America to honor this civil rights icon. Dr. King’s last speech was delivered amidst a labor protest following the needless death of two African-American sanitation workers. The message set forth on the placards carried on the protestor’s shoulders was simple: I Am A Man. The timelessness of this message continues to resonates. Black Lives Matter. Although such words should never have to be uttered – especially a half-century after Dr. King’s death – study after study demonstrates the neglect and disparate treatment still routinely visited on minorities, especially those living in impoverished areas. Despite this harsh reality, Dr. King’s legacy is so powerful that it cuts across many demographics. Stevie Wonder and other celebrities from various fields created a music video commemorating Dr. King, which was disseminated via an inaugural tweet by Wonder timed at the exact moment of Dr. King’s death. Wonder urged others to similarly post videos marked by the hashtag #DreamStillLives. And at least one conservative pundit took a moment today to highlight Dr. King’s message. Sean Hannity, a top conservative radio and television personality, devoted a fair amount of the opening segment of his radio show to play an extended segment from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Hannity praised Dr. King’s eloquent words that envisioned an America free of racial division. Is it possible that universal respect for Dr. King will one day forge a path to the end of racism in America?
Speaking of Black Lives Matter . . . Protests continued in Sacramento following the gunning down of Steven Clark in the backyard of his grandmother’s home. Clark was holding a cell-phone, which police assert was mistaken for a weapon when they opened fire. The intensity of the protests increased when an independent autopsy found that Clark was shot seven times in the back. Some of the protests blocked entry to NBA games by the hometown team, the Sacramento Kings. In a defining moment, the owners of Sacramento Kings sided with the protestors and announced an alliance with local groups – including a Black Lives Matter group – to transform impoverished black communities in the Sacramento area.
And on a final related note, EQ4ALL#@LLS enters its second year! Our site was purposefully launched on last-year’s anniversary of Dr. King’s death. Our mission statement reflects one of Dr. King’s core messages: the sin of prejudice begins with the othering of an oppressed minority. Othering permits a dominant group to refuse to treat an oppressed minority with the dignity and respect that should be afforded to all individuals. Whether such treatment is based upon ignorance or outright animus, it does not change the devastating impact on victims. Recognizing that every human being is just that – a human being – is the simple step that has the power to soften even the most hardened bigot. And it certainly can change the perspective of the uninformed. Notably, Bernice King, a minister and Dr. King’s youngest child, indicated that her father would embrace a myriad of current movements, specifically including #METOO and the Parkland students’ campaign against gun violence. This is because her father fought for “inclusion for all.” Let’s honor Dr. King’s legacy and stand united to both challenge othering and fight for equality and equity not just for ourselves, but for all oppressed minorities.
Editor’s Note: For an excellent article about Reverend Bernice King’s views of the guidance her father would offer regarding today’s circumstances, click here.