Thank you, Warren, for reminding us of MLK's contributions to peace and nonviolence.
It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution
--Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957
MLK was ahead of his time. He was a man of great wisdom and we can still make his dream come true!
Peace to all!
Please forward widely!
IN HONOR OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Dear friend of United for Peace and Justice,
Today while the nation observes Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we are hard at work honoring Dr. King by building for one of the most important mobilizations of our time -- the January 27th March on Washington to stop the war in Iraq. We take a moment to reflect on the example of Dr. King and the movement he led, how he taught us to stand up for justice, struggle for freedom, work for peace and make sure everyone understands the connections.
United for Peace and Justice honors Martin Luther King in our renewed commitment to the urgent work of ending the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. We are horrified that the president ignores the will of the people; instead of moving away from war, he escalates, not only by sending more troops into Iraq but also by threatening military action against Iran. We are enraged that hundreds of billions of our tax dollars have already been spent in this war that never should have happened -- money that should have been spent rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast or for schools and health care and infrastructure repairs around the country. We are angry that our civil liberties are undermined, that torture is condoned, and that spying on innocent people is allowed in the name of a so-called "war on terror."
Yet we are hopeful that a new wave of activism is coming alive throughout this nation. For four years the antiwar movement has consistently said no to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. Our call to end the war now and bring all of the troops home has not waivered. Our movement has used every tactic and protest tool available and created some new ones. This work has borne fruit as we find more and more people speaking out and taking action.
In the spirit of Dr. King, in honor of his awesome contributions to the struggles for justice and peace, we are prepared to offer our voices, skills, time, money and bodies as we escalate our action to stop this war and build the beloved community he taught us to strive for.
We invite you to take a moment to watch the attached video honoring Dr. King. And we encourage you to do everything you can to help ensure the success of the national antiwar March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 27th.
Thank you Warren for the links to the videos of Dr. King's speeches, etc. on YouTube!! I was so happy to be able to share them with my adult students from Japan, Mexico, and Guatemala who knew little or nothing about those days, or even anything about Dr. King, though they have all heard his name. Even those who couldn't understand much of the speeches (or my rough translations) were amazed at the films of the demonstrations and said they were so glad to have some idea about him. They plan to learn more about those times and about Dr. King by finding books in the library and videos in their native languages (there is a short one on YouTube in Spanish). The videos led to great discussions (I teach several private classes, so there were many different perspectives) and a zillion good questions. I also sent the links to my former students all over the world, some of whom are high school students, and have received many enthusiastic thankyous already.
I also was able to share with them my memories of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. I was 14 then, got a ride with my neighbor in Alexandria, Va., because my dad was nervous about going into D.C. (The police were anticipating all kinds of violence, which never materialized.) We walked in the march, sharing water and snacks with other marchers, carrying a baby occasionally for a tired mother, and generally became part of that determined, hopeful flood of thousands of the best people in America -- meaning those who cared, both black and white. I climbed a tree to see the stage and Dr. King, because I couldn't see a thing from on the ground. It was the most amazing experience, and the biggest influence on my life by far. There are no words to describe the atmosphere of that day or the emotions I felt walking with all those people, singing, carrying signs, seeing things I had never seen as a child of the segregated South. (Oh yes, I remember "Whites only" very well.)
Later, after Dr. King was assassinated, I left Penn State University in my third year there, because I couldn't find more than a handful of people who cared about his life or his death, or about the war. (In the dormitory TV room, while we watched the news coverage of the assassination and aftermath, everyone around me was laughing and making racist jokes and threatening remarks.) I moved back to D.C., recontacted people I had met in the years after the march, and went to work in the civil rights movement, living and teaching in the inner city alongside many of those leaders and participants in the 1963 March.
Today, I remember King's emotional speeches and comments about the Vietnam War, and war and power and exploitation in general. I hope that seeing the videos and listening to programs about King on this holiday of his birthday will rouse people once again to be a wave of resistance to the shameful actions of our leaders and the dangerous direction of this country RIGHT NOW. We need the revolution in values that he described. The timing is perfect, right before the marches and protests planned for January through March. My advice: If you can possibly get to D.C. for March 17th, go!! You will feel the Power of the People! WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!!!
There is still much work to be done, my friends...
Racism Still Rules In the Hearts and Minds of Many! Just watch this video and try not to cry:
In my life, no person has been so deeply connected to the divine as Martin Luther King. When he spoke I felt in my bones as if it was the very word of God proceding from his lips. It evoked the power that must have been felt by those who heard Moses speak or were blessed by Buddha. Today many sit awaiting the second coming of Christ so that mankind will finally be free of that most unholy scourge we call war. Many in the peace movement know that this effort must be made. Yet, in their hearts they do not truly believe that unequivocal, world-wide peace is possible at all, much less possible in their lifetime.
So long as we do not believe it is possible, it will not be. In 2004, we spent tremendous mental and physical energy trying to convince voters of all the potential evils that would take place if GWB were to remain president. While we walked and talked, we affirmed over and over again just how bad the George and Dick team were. Our eyes were on what could go wrong, not what could go right. That is because we really don't believe that we can overcome the problems we face.
Brothers and sisters, we CAN overcome. We WILL overcome as soon as we BELIEVE we can overcome. I say to you today, just as in the words of the song we sing, we SHALL overcome.
Before this can happen we have to believe. The only way to believe is to personally experience. The only way to believe that this country is capable of hope is to hope. The only way to believe that this country is capable of justice is to be just. And, the only way to belive we can have peace is to have it within ourselves. The thing about peace is that it is addictive! The more you get, the more you want. It is also infectious! If any man or woman truly has peace in his or her heart it will spread uncontrolably to those around them. (Just look at those who were close to MLK.)
Now, I have to inform you, that if you were not aalready, you have just been infected. I should have warned you, but, I am infected and just by reading my words you are now infected too. Even if you try to be meticulously careful, you are going to infect others as well. The thing about this is that peace feels so good, you aren't going to want to stop. The next thing you know, you are going to be eating, and drinking, and sleeping peace and getting more contagious all the time.
Now, there are people, like Bush, who think that peace is a disease. They will try to "cure" you with hate and anger. If they can isolate you, they may succeed. But if you are around others who are infected, that peace is going to come right back. There may be some who read this that have been "cured", but, believe me, whether or not they know it, they have now been reinfected.
Just to warn you, I hear there is another virus on its way. This one is called love.
Today the nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is much to celebrate about the work of this remarkable man, just as there is so much to learn from the example of his life.
On this day, United for Peace and Justice honors Martin Luther King by re-affirming our commitment to the work ahead, our commitment to doing all we can to end the horror of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq.
A year ago at this time President Bush had announced his plans for a surge of U.S. military operations in Iraq. His escalation of the war was the exact opposite of what the overwhelming majority of the people of this country were calling for: End the war in Iraq!
Now we are told that the surge has worked. In fact, a closer look at what's happening in Iraq shows that the surge has not worked. Each day more Iraqis and U.S. servicepeople are killed. A massive humanitarian crisis has developed with more than 4 millions Iraqis (out of a population of 23 million people) displaced -- half as refugees in other countries and half displaced within Iraq. Basic social services like health care and education are not functioning; residents in Baghdad have electricity less than 1/2 the day; there is massive unemployment; and there is still no political resolution in sight.
In two months, on March 19th, the 6th year of the war and occupation in Iraq will begin. United for Peace and Justice has launched an ambitious program of activities and actions on and around March 19th. Our 5 Years Too Many efforts are part of a year-long campaign aimed at building so much pressure on Washington that policymakers (of whatever party) will finally be forced to bring the troops -- all of the troops -- home. Let us make this anniversary of the war in Iraq the last one! Please visit www.5yearstoomany.org for more information about these actions.
Today, on the holiday that celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, we renew our commitment to help build a movement that acts from the knowledge that our struggles are not separate and that our victories come when we are united. What the U.S. is doing in Iraq is not separate from the saber-rattling against Iran, the plans to build a new generation of nuclear weapons, or the ongoing support for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. What the U.S. is doing in Iraq cannot be separated from what's happening right here at home: The people of the Gulf Coast have yet to see the money needed to rebuild their communities and their lives; our civil rights and civil liberties are relentlessly undermined; a home mortgage crisis threatens neighborhoods around the country; millions of people still have no health insurance; the list goes on.
As we move into the challenges of this year, we are inspired by the life and work of Dr. King. As he did so many times, we will put ourselves into the streets and we will use our bodies to creatively, nonviolently and passionately demand that peace prevail and justice triumph. We invite you to join us on this journey.
National Coordinator, UFPJ
If Martin Luther King, Jr could talk to Barack Obama what would he say?
Of course, he'd express congratulations and express feelings of pride.
But MLK would also have words for Obama about adding 100,000 more troops to Afghanistan, because unlike Obama, Martin Luther King was a peace activist. MLK broke his ties with LBJ over that administration's policy on the Vietnam war.
I heard interesting commentary on this here.
Tomorrow is an important and historic day for our country, and I'm glad we aren't swearing in John McCain and Sarah Palin. But our work as Peace Activists is not over, it is just beginning again with a new president.