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Is America still dreaming about integration and eradicating white supremacy?
Happy MLK Jr. Day! Challenge yourself to think about what life is and what you know it should be.
Good morning everyone,
I love MLK Jr. Day! I always wake up excited and ready to enjoy my day.
Naturally, I spend the day thinking about race and what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be dreaming of if he was still alive — if he wasn’t assassinated, he would be 93 years old today.
Below is another short essay about my thoughts around freedom, integration, and white supremacy. But before that, I’d like to challenge you for MLK Jr. Day and ask you: what will you do to integrate your spaces and eradicate white supremacy?
The last speech MLK Jr. delivered was called I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. He spoke to a collection of sanitation workers who went on strike after two garbage collectors were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. This event, coupled with the City of Memphis’ refusal to take dilapidated trucks out of service or to pay overtime, led to a demand for better safety standards and a decent wage.
In his speech, MLK Jr. said:
Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”
What I love about MLK Jr. is he speaks to your soul and reminds you that nothing in this world is impossible. Freedom is a quest worth pursuing, and if you can’t enjoy it now, imagine how sweet it will be for the next generation.
What does freedom look like to you and what, or who, is standing in the way of freedom?
Internally, I view freedom as being able to speak honestly and candidly about my thoughts, opinions, and experiences as a Black woman that primarily occupies white spaces. Growing up, I developed a horrible habit of diluting and shrinking myself to appear palatable, acceptable or valuable. I can’t continue to silence my own voice, or endure pain inflicted by others, for someone else’s comfort. Now, I’m actively trying to unlearn this behavior and present my authentic self to everyone and speaking up when I have something to say.
Externally, I view freedom as being able to move freely, either physically or career-wise, and spend my time how I want.
For me, the biggest barriers to living a free(er) life are the systems designed by the upper class to maintain power, influence, and control over political and market economies AND the people who maintain them.
I believe both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement were challenging the norms and systems maintained by white supremacy and pushing us in the direction of a more integrated America, where everyone has access to safety, social mobility, and self-sufficiency. But we still have so much work to do, as I’m sure you’ve noticed — Tallahassee is one of the most economically-segregated cities in America.
Our workplaces, schools, and public spaces do not reflect the economic and racial diversity in Tallahassee. We are still living in a world that was designed by segregationists and slave owners years ago. Is this the world you want to live in? Is this the world that is helping you, your children, or your neighbors access freedom?
I think we’ve become too complacent with where we are in society. We have to continue to fight for freedom and reject illusions of progress.
Tallahassee Events for MLK Jr. Day:
12 p.m. - MLK Day Parade along North Monroe Street, beginning at Call Street and heading south.
1-3 p.m. - Cleanup in the historic Frenchtown neighborhood, hosted by the Tallahassee Urban League. Location: 932 Old Bainbridge Road.
2-6 p.m. - MLK Day Festival at Cascades Park featuring live entertainment, local food vendors and family-friendly fun. Tallahassee Nights Live will take the stage at the closing act from 4:30-6 p.m.
2:30-4 p.m. - Day of Dialogue at the Parkview at Cascades broaden your perspective with a screening of the film “Race to be Human” and conversations led by diverse speakers at the annual Day of Dialogue, held at the Parkview at Cascades.
3:30 p.m. - Adderley Amphitheater dedication at Cascades Park with musical tribute.
I hope you all enjoy your day!
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