“Too quickly, apathy and disinterest rise too the surface when the next logical steps are to be taken… as the nation passes from opposing extremist behavior to the more pervasive elements of equality, White America reaffirms its bond to the status quo.
Let us not think of our movement as one that seeks to integrate the Negro into all of the existing values of American society. Instead, let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community
Today, HALO had the honor of hosting the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration for the City of Rockville, harkening to his last book as we spent time exploring his legacy and the past, present, and future of social justice in the United States. Thinking deeply about the fullness of the message Dr. King spread and his leadership through the Civil Rights Movement, we discovered connectedness among strangers and colleagues amidst differing experiences of time, place and identity. These connections illuminate the truth that racism is both a system and dysfunctional ideology that keeps us separate and ignorant of our shared interests in the fight against social injustice and poverty.
In the presence of city government leaders, participants drew from their experiences and the work the city government has done so far to create equity and protect the rights of its residents to speak their visions for what the next logical steps are to leave the status quo for the sake of liberty and justice that’s still overdue. Folks spoke of expanding social services to guide marginalized communities toward resources and opportunities, investing in educating youth about the truth of American history and how that knowledge can enable local, state, and federal government to apply reparation initiatives, and expanding the resources of their human rights coalition to support and advocate for refugees and asylum seekers in the city.
Every community and every individual has their own steps to take to help move the nation toward actualizing its ideals and identity. And as Dr. King also said, “This is… life’s most persistent and urgent question: what are you doing for others?”, it is imperative– for the sake of our ancestors, those living today, and those lives to come– that we find ways to take responsibility for taking those next steps. It’s up to us to change the world to reflect the values we share and see liberty and justice that’s truly for all.
Here is our tribute to Dr. King and all who fought bravely through the Civil Rights Movement. Many thanks to Cliff Shoemaker of the Fairfax Jubilaires for producing this video in honor of the holiday.