On Tuesday night (March 16, 2021) a man with a gun shot and killed eight people, including six young Asian women. According to the New York Times, Asian Americans were targeted in nearly 3,800 hate incidents in the past year. Words cannot fully express the senselessness of this violence, nor can they fully measure the amount of pain and suffering that will endure long after last night’s carnage. And that is why we say that words alone are simply not enough.
Today we commemorate the life, work, and meaning of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, too many in pop culture and in our community will celebrate a faux Dr. King, an ersatz posthumous version drained of his righteous moral power, erudite learned wisdom, and unyielding bravery, a domesticated Stuart Smalley-esque construction that does not challenge us to be more than simply superficially “nice” to one another. That is not the Dr King who existed nor to whom we owe so much. This artifice is as a blasphemy to Dr. King’s teachings and to the multitudes of lesser known and wholly unknown collaborators who worked and toiled with him over the two decades of his publicly-visible activism and in the over five decades since. Millions of black women and men, most without Dr. King’s immense oratorical and intellectual gifts, but who nonetheless took up the power and righteousness of their shared mission, and who still toil today, are insulted and demeaned by such impotent depictions.
Every year The Spirit of Dr. King Award is given to a Ridgefield resident for their outstanding commitment to community service and selflessness, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. This year will be special, not only because it is it the 25th Anniversary of this event, but because, for the first time, it will all be done virtually and can be viewed LIVE on Monday, January 18. 2020, beginning at 1 pm on the Ridgefield Playhouse YouTube Channel, and will be available for replay viewing anytime thereafter.”
I take it as a good thing and as a measure of meaningful progress that white people absolutely lose their minds when someone suggests that they are racist. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that a disturbingly large segment of America’s white citizens was unabashedly proud of their racist identity. It was an explicit expression of their superiority, intellectually, culturally, economically and politically, over people of color. In 1972 and 1976, George Wallace ran for president as a Democrat and won several state primaries each time. This is the same man who passionately declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”
When a brother in arms falls on the battlefield, it is our duty to pick up his sword and carry the battle forward. John Lewis and CT Vivian dedicated their lives to the fight for voting rights for all Americans. They were instrumental to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. We can show them our love and respect by carrying forward the fight to extend, preserve, and protect the voting rights of all people.