Martin Luther King’s Fiftieth Celebration!

Wow-just got back from the MLK celebrations at Second Church in Portsmouth! It was a very powerful event, sponsored, Seacoast NAACP & South’s Church Social Justice group, as well as SURJ members and activists in the community who’re working for “internalized oneness” and racial justice for our culture & nation.

Martin Luther King was a pioneer in the establishment of non-violent protest & demonstrations, and this was built upon a strong, activist-based foundation, an eclectic framework for the Civil Rights Movement among others across the planet.

Thanks to Second Church for their work of organizing and hosting this very important holiday, a celebration of MLK, Jr, and his ever-evolving legacy!

The Host of Ceremonies, JerriAnne Boggis, who is the Executive Director of the Black Heritage Trail of NH, whose mission is to honor, celebrates and preserves African-American history (herstory) in the state; she’s also a writer, educator, and community activist on NH’s complexity & richness and her kaleidioscopic past, introduced all of the speakers, and explained what Martin Luther King meant to her.

The Keynote Speaker was Sean McGhee, the Director of the UNH’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMSA); his job at the University has been to foster & insure that all values of diversity are highly respected at the University. One of his main themes was get comfortable to be uncomfortable. As this writer views it, anti-racism work will always feel uncomfortable, because racism is a pathological disease of human beings. We are sick and need to be healed while racial healing is a possibility.

Mr. McGhees’ non-anxious comments gave a wide view to many families that are comprised of different ethnicities, and the consequent skills, resources, and multicultural gifts embedded in generations of human life.

McGhee also advised against seeing MLK as the “icon King,” the Savior of all, something perhaps more than human. Reinforcing the demystification of King, he was a human, like us, with all of the “up” feelings and the “down.” He also encouraged his listeners to find “safe spaces,” secure places where the work of love & reconciliation are getting done, and where support may be found.

I’m so proud of the young people who spoke today–thanks to our younger speakers, Beti Stevens (Traipe Academy) and Nooran Alhamdan (UNH), and to Keynote speaker: Sean McGhee. Ms. Steven’s emphasis in her remarks was her own African-American privilege (her family is biracial), and the urgent need to speak out against racism, anytime we see it. She’s been an example of this at her school-community.

Ms. Alhamdan, whose origin of birth is the Middle East, emphasized in her remarks, the need to always resist racism and oppression wherever it exists. We need to hear the voices of refugees to this country who’ve experienced lack of access, profiling, fear, and who often live in fear due to the trauma they’ve experienced in their lives. Resist! Resist! Resist!

There were a number of dignitaries at the event, many who are Social Justice Advocates, and a lot of caring community members.

Martin Luther King brought to our attention the intersection & incorporation of justice & equality, in all struggles for freedom; there will always be a struggle when it comes to freedom-one group has dominance over another so there will be head-to-head resistance for justice’s sake. Equality’s sake.

The Civil Rights Era grew with King’s kind of charismatic leadership, but it flourished from the ground-up. It was the “peoples” movement. This also meant African-Americans were subjected to vicious police dogs, firehouses as weapons, beatings, lynchings, tyrannized by the KKK, and other Jim Crow laws, jail time, bombings, cross-burnings, bombings of churches, and the killing of innocent children, sometimes within churches-these were the murders of innocents!

It would seem almost impossible to get up off one’s knees after enduring some of the above-mentioned violence, when you’re still deemed less-than-human, 3/5 of a human being (The Federation Papers), or soul-less by the White-Supremacist-Structural-System.
MLK’s vision for his people, and all people, to go back to our original homes, find our original hearts, and our original faces of who we all are: not human races, but the human race. Our original home is the metaphor of playing as children-we all wanted to play, having fun together, and, at times, don’t playing kids get into fights and conflicts? So, they find ways to solve the problems so they can get back to playing; some may leave to run back to their own home, the place of belongingness.

He shared his dream in his “I Have A Dream Speech” given at Washington, DC-that dream encompassed the generations of former slaves, and the generations of whites, for whom they slaved, sitting down together, in communicative and active unity. This is the unity of internalized oneness! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to deliver the same message as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching of interbeing. He wanted us to understand human interrelatedness as well as interdependency.  The reality of the “Beloved Community.”

The Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King has proved that non-violent resistance can work and is an effective, political tool. Why is it, sometimes, that truth ireally is stranger than fiction?

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam January 16, 2018

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