These are my opening remarks from the #120hours Interfaith Vigil to #ReclaimMLK Radical Legacy. It was stormy. The wind was blowing and it was raining sideways.
I want to thank you for being here tonight. It takes commitment to come out in this weather. We’re glad you’re here.
I don’t know what the weather was like on December 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama when Dr. King called for the bus boycott – but I imagine in that yearlong effort, folks experienced sleet and wind, snow and rain, thunderstorms and high humidity. But that didn’t stop them from resisting the violence of segregation.
I don’t know what the weather was like on Sunday, March 7, 1965 when Congressman John Lewis thought he saw Death on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. But state sanctioned violence carried out by the fists and boots of local police didn’t stop people from resisting the suppression of their right to vote.
I don’t know what the weather was like on August 6, 1966 when Dr. King led a march through a white neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. But seeing a placard that said: “King would look good with a knife in his back.” held by one of the angry white residents and watching white flight in his neighborhood didn’t stop him from leading the resistance against housing injustice.
50 years later, I know what the weather is like. The wind is blowing. The rain is falling sideways. And while that might not be conducive to us having a peaceable candlelight march down Broadway, I believe that nature is reminding us that things are still sideways today.
Things are sideways because black and brown people can’t afford to rent or buy property in the cities of their birth. Things are sideways because black and brown voters can’t get to a polling place near them because of gerrymandering. Things are sideways because black and brown children are still being struck down by the hands and boots of state-sponsored violence.
That’s why we’re here tonight… We’re here to remember that Dr. King called on the church and in particular, the white moderate church to step up and step out of our comfort zones. We’re here to remember Dr. King and to join our hopes and our strengths together to face the truth that there is still so much work to do.