Martin Luther King Jr Birthday – A Day not only for Reflection but for Action

Building The Beloved Community

MLK observes the Inauguration with Pride.Photo by LaVerne Baker-Leyva, MLK statue modeled on Bob Fitch photograph.

MLK observes the Inauguration with Pride.
Photo by LaVerne Baker-Leyva, MLK statue modeled on Bob Fitch photograph.

On Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, it is easy to talk about the past. It is a greater challenge to talk about the work yet ahead. MLK  was one of many nonviolent leaders who spoke of the Beloved Community as a trans-racial community of brother and sisterhood. In 1957 he said “The ultimate aim of Southern Christian Leadership Conference is to foster and create the “beloved community” in America . . . . SCLC works for integration. Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living.’ And in his last book he declared: “Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation.”  

What stands in the way of building the Beloved Community?

  • Economic inequity = segregated housing and schools. Current economic inequity is at its worst since before WW II.
  • Federal v. state rights, many fundamental rights and services are not equitable across the country including access to voter registration and the ability to vote

What can we do?

1. Launch economic initiatives and make policy changes that level the playing field.

2. Improve schools through support for public schools. End white flight from public schools.

3. Educate ourselves on voting rights threatened by Voter ID laws. According to the NAACP an estimated 5 million qualified citizens of voting age do not have the government issued ID required in 29 states.

Our ancestors fought, and we won, many but not all legal battles, the struggle today is for economic justice. The challenge is ours, but we are up for it, right? Please send your thoughts and plans for action to end segregation.

© Maria Gitin. Excerpted from a talk at Temple Beth El, Aptos, CA  January 18, 2013

See Bob Fitch Photo Home page for MLK image:

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