Reflections and Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014

First I was aggravated at Oliver Stone for throwing in the towel on the much-touted film on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday.  He knew the announcement would grab the headlines and further sully the great man’s name.

Then I turned my anger to the keepers of the MLK legacy, the King family and their advisers.  Why not just admit that MLK had feet of clay that are far less relevant than his leadership of a movement that has forever restructured the political, social and cultural contours of this nation.

When I turned on the radio for my Sunday morning ritual listen to On Being I was delighted to realize that the gurus at MPR had wisely chosen to air a conversation that Krista Tippett shared some weeks ago with Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Lucas Johnson.  Listening to that thoughtful discussion relieved my angst and inspired reflections far more appropriate to the occasion.  Though my original intent was to share the podcast and transcript, a click on the website disclosed that the interview was actually videotaped in December in front of a live audience at National Public Radio in Washington, DC.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, an early black power feminist, is the older of the two guests.  She well remembers blatant racism, picketing and marching, the subtleties of the leaders’ philosophies and the distortion of the facts over time.  She has written about her experience as a SNCC activist in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC.  Today Dr. Simmons is assistant professor of religion at the University of Florida.  She is also a member of the National Council of Elders (about which I want to learn more.)

Dr. Lucas Johnson, a younger man, speaks more of the impact of the civil rights movement on him personally and on his generation.  He is Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.  His conversation revolves around the impact of the civil rights movement on current issues of peace, non-violence and reconciliation.

  • MPR has posted a short video discussion starter based on MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. View the video here:  http://vimeo.com/64079741
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One response to “Reflections and Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014

  1. Thank you! I like these ones:

    1. ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ Or, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-moore/martin-luther-king-health-care_b_2506393.html

    Even worse than injustice in health care is injustice in the basic right of health, of freedom from toxic exposures, and the fundamental medical and human right of specific prior informed written consent. How we can ignore this in the dental sector, and its tragic impacts on the medical, health and mental health sectors, should reverberate throughout the halls of health care and of justice for years to come.

    Join the Call for a Surgeon General’s Report on Dental Amalgam and Health Risks as the next wave of Open Government Sunshine, after four decades of darkness, shadows and foul play by the FDA and ADA.

    2. “Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

    For more info, contact me at Hidden River Health Challenge: A Social Innovation Enterprise Promoting Health http://www.oceanriver.org/hiddenriver.php (still in beta), like http://www.facebook.com/hiddenriver, tweet @LauraHRussell, and/or email laurarussell2 at comcast.net.

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