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Honoring the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Photo by Christian Catamo

I know many of us are spending today celebrating the heroic legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is a holiday that represents so much more than an official nod to a historical figure’s birthday. It is a day for us to reflect on our own role in social and political change, particularly through service to our community. Over the years, I have been moved and further educated by Black radicals’ efforts to remind us of Dr. King’s truly bold vision for liberation. He believed we have a duty to break unjust laws and practice civil disobedience. Dr. King believed in fighting for the poor and union labor. He was a strong anti-militarist who protested the Vietnam War and our country’s huge military defense budget. His commitment to racial equality was so philosophically rich and multidimensional. In Richmond, a city built on the community investment and labor of African Americans since World War II, you can spend this nationally-recognized day of service in two ways:

For further details about the National Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway and North Richmond Farm  Click here

For further details about the National Day of Service at Happy Lot Farm Garden in Richmond  Click here

Finally, I would like to share two of my favorite works by Dr. King. The first needs no introduction: Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” My favorite part is when he cautions: I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” The second is his speech to striking sanitation workers in Memphis. You can read it in full here (or watch it here), but I want to note my favorite part: So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight, that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth. One day our society must come to see this. One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant. All labor has dignity. But you are doing another thing. You are reminding, not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages. I am currently in Washington D.C. on city business and so disappointed I can’t participate in the MLK Jr. commemorations and service opportunities in Richmond this year. However, I must admit I’m feeling honored to reflect on his legacy in the city where he delivered speeches of such historical significance. And, as always, my heart is in Richmond. In community, Eduardo

The March on Washington in Photographs

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