In observance of Presidents Day, I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from past Presidents of the United States of America. Let us reflect on these words of wisdom and inspiration at a time when many of us need it the most! Stephanie’s Top 10 Presidential Quotes “Conformity is the jailer of […]
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
On the eve of our national holiday to commemorate the work and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I saw a sobering tweet from his youngest daughter Bernice King. In less than 40 words, Ms. King reminded politicians to go beyond merely honoring her late father’s words with rhetoric to fighting for the policies that will erode the stronghold of inequity on our society. Her charge gave me pause. I wondered if we had lost sight of what our personal MLK Day contributions mean to Dr. King’s rich legacy of servant leadership and radical commitment to combating racism and poverty.
Dr. King wasn’t simply a man with a dream. To the contrary, King was most fully a man who possessed carefully-considered policy demands. Though King spent his final hours leading the Poor People’s Campaign for fair wages, worker safety and a life unbound by the shackles of discrimination, today, we are most often called to commit acts of charity in Dr. King’s name. Let me be clear, I fully support addressing people’s urgent needs in real time. However, King noted five years before his death that “philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
Kings words were a caution to not get too comfortable that you give up the deeper call to create a more just society. No doubt, centering economic and racial fairness into public policy is often grueling. I will not pretend otherwise. However, an existence spawned from systemic injustice is even more grueling. That’s why I firmly believe that our intolerance of injustice must eclipse our appetite for charity to sustainably shift society.
2017 and the beginnings of 2018 have shown the world some of Baltimore’s gravest challenges. Each of these challenges: limited affordable housing, crumbling school infrastructure, and rates of violent crime are tied to race and class inequities. If policymakers ignore how inequity gives permanence to the most distressing realities of the urban condition, they can only aspire to performative concern.
On this MLK Day, let us resolve to engage more deeply in the civic affairs of our local communities. Let us also reject false choices. We can feed the hungry as well as support fair wages to prevent hunger in the first place.
It’s not charity or justice. It’s both—until mercifully only the latter remains.