Dr King arrived in Chicago with nonviolence and equity on his mind. At The Freedom Movement Rally in Chicago, he rallied his troops for justice and talked about being tired – tired of inferiority, injustice, overcrowded schools, poor housing … and the litany went on the people said Amen! For an overview of the context see this collage from The Chicago Tribune. There is so much more to reflect on and write about! This is a sample of a big speech still in the making.
The tyranny of gradualism and promises of democracy were bearing in King’s heart on July 10, 1966 in Soldier Field, Chicago. For a city that went on to host the acceptance speech of the first black American President on Nov 4, 2008 in Grant Park – this city has come a long way. The promise of democracy and all it delivers for all citizens is not complete. While the tall buildings elegantly scrape the sky, the hungry, deranged and homeless are still eeking out an existence on the street.
The rats scurry along the gentrified riverbank in the shadow of a tower of the one of the biggest rats seeking to lead to ‘free world’. The language of hate and fear are on one side of the scales as the forces of resisting changed and demanding change are diluted by the indifference and lack of confidence in the ballot box.
Organise, organise, organise – walk down every streets, knock on every door, register everyone eligible to vote, have all the conversations that need to be had – the urgency for equity is not over …. And yes, let justice roll down like a river and like Joshua get ready to fight the battle at Jericho to get those walls a-tumbling down! The walls of hate, the walls of division, the walls of fear, the walls of greed – let all these walls come tumbling down. We have seen walls come down all around the world from Berlin to Beijing and now someone wants to raise them again. Don’t be victims of disappointment. Pick up the weapons of truth and build a force that no political machine can resist.
The clouds of Chicago on a rainy morning forecast along with the psalmist (Ps126) seeds sown in tears will be jumping for joy when the harvest is reaped. This is not the time to grow weary, it is not the time to give up. This is the time when all lives matter, this is the time to keep rising and be liberated from the slavery of poverty, hardship, poor housing, lack of education, unaffordable health care. The promise of the rainbow was ‘fire next time’. We must fire up our hearts, galvanise our passion and like Mary stop the weeping and the mourning, and get up, rise up. It is time to dare everything as James Baldwin encouraged and now what seems to be a prophecy, race relations are at the crossroads in the USA once again.
This is not a time for gradualism, and even while each small step adds to the march, it is a march that is required, one fired up with nonviolence and armed with facts, figures, truth, fuelled by the desire for freedom.