Faith, Community Leaders Gather in Atlanta to Celebrate MLK

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Son Takes Part In Race Relations Summit In Miami Beach.

So I consider it an especially pressing duty to be mindful of my journey; and, when possible, to remind others that such a journey is just that for some of us — a setting out without a clear sense that we will get where we intend to go. The discussion focused on race relations in America and also included prominent women’s-rights attorney Gloria Allred, and Ben Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family and the family of Michael Brown who was killed by a white police officer. Representing the point of view that I do — as a brown American from a lower-class background, with the good fortune today to walk the halls of one of America’s most elite institutions as a teacher of philosophy — Martin Luther King Jr.

When asked about what he thought his father might say about the situation today, he replied, “Well I think number one, I don’t know that any of us could speak to what he would say. Recalling the sense of disconnect expressed by Frederick Douglass in his speech “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” — between himself as a former slave and his white audience — I want to say there is also some distance between black and white Americans today, between “you” and “I,” as it were, and that this day has increasingly become “yours,” not mine. What I will say is that if he lived and Robert Kennedy lived, our nation would be on a different trajectory.” “They’re trying to improve the system. I’ve fought for civil rights my whole life and if there is a way to fight from beyond, I will.” “I don’t think the system is completely broken,” said Mark O’Mara. “I still think it’s the best system that we have and has ever has existed in the world.” A recent report shows 17-percent of people polled in 2014 said race relations are good or great compared to 34-percent who said race relations were good or great the prior year.

I think we are just making small progress and we got a long way to go.” MLK III said all communities need to focus on teaching compassion, diversity, understanding different cultures and races and implement this from kindergarten to high school in order to raise people with a better understanding of how to treat people. Overall, this group agreed that 2014 was not a good year for race relations but they all say they are optimistic that things will move forward in the right direction in 2015. I think it goes without question that not only has the idea of a post-racial America proven to be a myth, but that racial inequality remains a tragic mark on the character of this otherwise great nation — a nation founded on respect not only for what persons hope to accomplish in life but for what they are: humans owed rights, liberty and respect because of their humanity. While he indeed fought for the security of a full schedule of rights for black Americans, he was in fact fighting for something greater and more difficult to articulate — the hope that white Americans could extend a hand of brotherly and sisterly love to blacks. It is true, there was a time when to pronounce on the equality of all men and women, regardless of color, was not only disallowed but also treacherous territory, as Dr.

The actions of these Americans were deeply honorable, for they faced down the expectation that social power imposes upon us at all times — to stay the course rather than to agitate for change; to take comfort in small moral affirmations in the presence of our peers rather than to challenge the staid beliefs of the privileged. But one wonders what to make of this conviction today as segregation not only remains alive and well in many parts of America’s neighborhoods and schools, but is also in some cases worsening. King’s perspective his faith — and that’s what is was, faith — was in ways warranted: He watched a movement to claim for blacks equal status grow into one of American history’s most momentous movements and stand down centuries of white supremacy.

The fact that 53 years later neither segregation nor discrimination have been eliminated indicates the eagerness with which white Americans have adopted the idea that securing racial justice was a matter of the passing of a law and the martyrdom of a great man. You may think that these days are long past but consider the case of Ferguson, Mo., — a city of 21,135 people, predominantly black, that served 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses in 2013.

This remarkable level of surveillance and interdiction incidentally generated for Ferguson more than $2.5 million in revenue from fines and court fees — the city’s second largest source of revenue. In a nation where blacks possess only on average a dime of wealth for every dollar of white wealth, how is this reclamation of scarce resources anything but the continuation of oppression by other means, the reduction of blacks to instruments of economic necessity and exploitation? In a tragic sense, his plea — “I can’t breathe” — is the soundtrack of black life under conditions of deep unfairness and disregard: When we use the breath we have to ask for the rights and respect that ought to be ours, we have little breath to accomplish much else. I am concerned that his statement is sometimes taken to hold a view of historical necessity — that oppression has a shelf life, that marginalization has an expiration date. A life of civic goodness is always near enough, but we must often stretch to fully grasp it — to merely see it and praise it from the comfort of self-congratulatory appreciation is empty and a disappointment to better moral sensibilities.

I would have greatly preferred to present thoughts more joyous than these, but joy in a time of injustice is a very great luxury, one indulged in by either the willfully blind or the callously indifferent. Chris Lebron is an assistant professor of African-American studies and philosophy at Yale University and the author of “The Color Of Our Shame: Race and Justice in our Time.”

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