Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

Dancing with Speeches #37 MLK in Chicago

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.

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Pens, Kalashnikovs and Bridges

Dear Sor Juana,

The sound of ideologies clashing continues to be a hail of bullets resulting in more radicalisation and creation of martyrs. This week the martyrs from one set of ideas are cartoonists, satirists, writers and from another, violent extremists – each to their own kind of weapons – one pens, the other, Kalashnikovs.

The everyday little wars we have where no blood is split, where egos might be bruised or voices raised are transparent. We can see into each other’s eyes. There is something that happens when we know a person’s name, who they are and where they come from. The pursuit of these truths comes with immediacy when crimes are perpetrated, we want to know who would do such things.

With the mass media of our time Sor Juana, being a bystander is not really an option, the news is all around us and nearly all of us have the capacity to document with words and pictures on multiple platforms. Severed heads are tweeted to a sporting audience just as easily as a meme about cats (I know you were a cat lady so you might well have had a giggle about some of those).

The age of fear is every age. I began my life in the shadow of the fear of nuclear annihilation and that fear cloud still hangs over civilisation. Martin Luther King gave a sermon once, as did hundreds before and after him, searching for an antidote to the fear of integration and said only love was the remedy. He had a four step plan: Face our fears; be courageous; master perfect love and be filled with faith. This kind of love hurts, takes prisoners and may well end badly. King prescribed people getting to know one another too and invoked the scriptures of his faith:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love ” I John 4.18

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind ” II Timothy 1 7

My home-grown experience of terrorism began because of some words I had written in a church newspaper. My words against racism inspired a right wing Christian group from my own denomination to track me down to my street, throw bricks through my windows and decorate it with graffiti hated filled slogans. In the wake of this week’s terrorism in Paris, as with all the times terrorism soaks into my world, I remember those moments. The first victim of this week’s massacre was a Muslim.

Thoughts can bring terror, as you discovered Sor Juana. Your thoughts, words and actions inspired some and terrorised others – just as feminism has done for centuries. I think dualism is the enemy and diversity and capacity to embrace a range of views essential for love and hope to prosper. Ways for all the voices to be heard is a practice and the thirst to hear more of the voices, is one quenched by respect.   It is not easy to hold the pen still when outrage roars and fear stock rises and possibly even harder for those who hold the gun. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

My friend Gill Hicks is setting out to climb bridges. This is her response to terrorism, her plan to face her fears, her way to be courageous, her journey to master love and her way to be filled with faith in humanity.  She is in conversation with terrorism every day, losing both her legs in the London bombings ten years ago. She is training hard every day – it is a practice and a discipline to climb a bridge. She is saying Be the Bridge.  I am another Pollyanna. (For those who don’t know the story of Pollyanna, after being a champion of finding the glad in every story, she fell off the top of her aunt’s roof and lost the use of her legs.  The local townsfolk rallied around to remind her of her insatiable optimism cheering them all up in their dark moment. Pollyanna was changed forever.)

Je Suis Pollyanna

My bridge building materials

My bridge building materials