MLK’s legacy honored with tributes, rallies around nation

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Selma’ screening, intergenerational discussion brings MLK’s message to the masses.

A lot of tears and cheers filled one AMC Loews movie theater in Cherry Hill Monday morning as more than 400 individuals gathered to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and spread his message. A special screening of the film “Selma” — which details the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama — preceded what organizers called “An intergenerational Conversation on Civil Rights in America, Past and Present.” Individuals as young as 10 and as old as 80, and from multiple cultural backgrounds, were in attendance at the event, which aimed to open a dialogue about civil rights between the generations. Elected officials from Gloucester and Camden Counties joined educators, activists, attorneys and students to discuss “Selma,” the historic events depicted in the movie and the importance those events have on today.

Hundreds joined Selma producer and star Oprah, director Ava DuVernay and leading men David Oyelowo and Common, among others, as they marked the 1965 protest that provided the backbone for the Oscar-nominated movie. The quartet and activists marched from Selma City Hall to the city’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, where civil rights protesters were beaten by police officers 50 years ago this year. But Americans should also remember his prescient warnings against economic inequality. “But if a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty and the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. Sponsored by the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association, the Gloucester County Minority Coalition, Friends of Frank Minor, the South Jersey Black Political Caucus and When Black Women Gather, the intergenerational and interracial conversation aimed to bring experiences from multiple generations together.

During the discussion after the film, many talked about memories from that time period, stories they’ve heard from their own parents or grandparents and the need to share these stories with the youth. “We don’t do enough of carrying information and giving it to our ancestors and children,” said Roy Dawson, former Superintendent of Camden City Schools. “Voting is so important. He taught us that we still have a choice to make: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation,” she said. “I challenge you to work with us as we help this nation choose nonviolence.” The courage and sacrifice of those who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s provides a model for those seeking to effect change today, Bernice King said, adding, “We praise God for a new generation of activists.” Commemorative events and service projects were organized nationwide to celebrate King’s life and legacy. If we don’t vote, we have no control over anything.” Jay Phillips Sr., of Sicklerville, brought his 11 year old son, Jay Phillips Jr. to the event in order to continue his education regarding civil rights and what his ancestors went through in the mid twentieth century.

The unemployment rate for African Americans between 2010 and 2012 was 15.7 percent — higher than any other group and double the rate of unemployment among Asians (7.3 percent) and white workers (7.4 percent). The tensions grew after two New York City police officers were shot to death last month by a man who suggested in online posts that he was retaliating for the deaths of Brown and Garner. Six months after Garner died in a white police officer’s chokehold protests and speeches invoking Garner’s name provided a backdrop to King tributes in New York. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had supported the demonstrations that followed a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer in Garner’s death, fracturing his relationship with the city’s police unions. We will move forward to deeper respect for all,” de Blasio said at the annual MLK Day event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, his city’s largest tribute. “We will move toward a true respect between police and community.” Elsewhere, The St.

Before he was gunned down at age 39, King was beginning to speak more frequently about the lack of job opportunities and upward mobility for poor Americans. Louis Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/1CI6x40 ) reported that two dozen protesters interrupted a King event at Harris-Stowe State University, leading to angry confrontations with students outside a campus auditorium. This included a legacy of handing out land in the West to white citizens while “telling the black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” Today, far too many minorities are stuck in a cycle of poverty that transfers from one generation to the next. In Denver, tens of thousands made it one of the biggest turnouts in years for the annual King march and parade, some festively beating drums while cowboys rode horseback while signs took note of the high-profile deaths.

A child from a family in less-affluent South King County is less likely to access early childhood development programs than a kid in a wealthier neighborhood in Seattle. In Washington, Obama and his wife Michelle went with one of their daughters, Malia, to a site for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington to paint murals and assemble “literacy kits” of flashcards and books to help youngsters improve their reading and writing skills.

In Philadelphia, activists used King day to press for an array of social justice causes, saying they wanted to reclaim his legacy of nonviolent protest to pursue better police accountability, more education funding and a higher minimum wage. But, leaders, advocates and citizens must do something different to achieve his vision of a society where opportunity is not just a dream, but a right for all.

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