This past January would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday. April 4th will be the 51st year since his death. A young man of 39, Dr. King didn’t get to live a long life, he didn’t have the opportunity to see his four children grow into adulthood, didn’t get to see their accomplishments, or get to meet his eloquent granddaughter Yolanda.
What he was able to accomplish in his short life span is nothing less than amazing. His legacy will live on forever. Dozens of books have been written about him, not counting the number of books written by him. His speeches and sermons are internationally known and are considered some of the best oratory work in modern history.
Dr. Kings most important Legacy was his revolutionary spirit to fight and stand up for poor people. In a recent speech Dr. William Barber said, “It is not enough to celebrate and commemorate Dr. King, we need to imitate and re-image his legacy. To truly honor a martyr, you must go where they failed, reach down in the blood and pick up the baton and carry it the rest of the way.”
Dr. Barber admonishes us to not just celebrate the moral movement of the past but build on it today, saying that we are called to be the conscious of this nation. We must re-image the narrative of yesterday, change the language to a moral language. Today our language should be one that talks about policy violence, rather than non-violence.
According to a study by Columbia University, around 250,000 people die in this country every year from poverty and other social factors. There are 110 million working poor, who are not making living wages. Thirty-nine million people not covered by healthcare, and 11 million undocumented immigrants, who need a moral policy.
We just witnessed a president who was willing to shut down the government for over a month, because he could. Over a million people, who live paycheck to paycheck, had tremendous harm done to them. Many were on the verge of losing everything, some were forced to go to food pantry’s, and others were forced to choose between paying their mortgage or paying for life saving chemotherapy treatment.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Justice Center, and a DC law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of more than 10,000 undocumented children being held in 100 facilities throughout the country. The lawsuit maintains that the Trump Administration enacted a policy to use detained immigrant children as bait to arrest immigrants who come forward to sponsor them, this is immoral.
The Trump Administration deportation of Southeast Asian refugees for committing crimes increased 279% from year 2017 to 2018. These individuals don’t speak their native language or know the culture. Many of them were resettled here during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. secretly bombed Cambodia.
According to Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, it is true individuals are subject to deportation if they break certain laws. However, many of these individuals are being deported for crimes committed years ago, and for which they’ve already gone through the criminal justice system and paid their debt to society, this is immoral.
We also witnessed one of the most undemocratic elections in fifty years in Georgia. Brian Kemp the Georgia Secretary of State used every trick in the book to steal the gubernatorial election from his opponent Stacy Abrams, from voter roll purges, voter suppression, destroying ballots to intimidation.
The Justice Dept. has the jurisdiction to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Former attorney general, Jeff Sessions reversed the Obama’s Justice Dept. position in two major voting rights cases and did not bring any new cases to enforce voting protections. And many voting rights groups are concerned that William Barr, Trump’s attorney general nominee, will purge voter rolls and limit protection ahead of the upcoming presidential 2020 elections, this is immoral.
For four years this community has been in the top 10 of the worst places for Black People to be successful. The Peoria Metro area now has the distinction of having the most segregated school system in the nation.
This city has been led by leadership with no vision, one that has mismanaged our tax dollars on bad investment schemes, while continuously disinvesting in at one time a vibrant and vital part of the city, this is immoral.
The southside of Peoria, a couple of decades ago, was the home of over 25,000 people, and now it has hundreds of empty lots, and half the population, this is immoral. Black children are taken away from their families in Peoria County, at a higher rate than anywhere in the state, this is immoral. Bonds and fees are set at higher rates for Black and Brown people, than white people in this county this is immoral.
All these policies are cruel an immoral. The people that are hurt the most are the poor, children, and immigrants. We must fight for those, who do not have the strength to fight for themselves. As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, let us pick up the baton and finish the work, Dr. King left undone and died for.