Saturday, January 18, 2020

Local Martin Luther King, Jr. Events

On Sunday at 2 p.m. there will be a program highlighting the words and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 2 p.m. at the Pump House. Dr.King's Call for Justice. Are We Still Listening?

On Monday, the La Crosse County Democratic Party will hold its monthly meeting early - at 5:30 p.m. - and include a brief talk by Dr. Jeremy Arney, assistant professor of political science at UWL, on the experiences of Lynda Blackmon Lowery in the early years of the Civil Rights movement.  Everyone is welcome to the meeting which will be held in the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, 724 Main Street.

At 7 p.m., the community's annual Martin Luther King celebration will be held at the Viterbo Fine Arts Center. The keynote speaker is Mrs. Lynda Blackmon Lowery. Arrive early for good seats. Free.

The Progressive Magazine's recent article, Martin Luther King and 'God's Children' on Both Sides of the Border, reminds us how broad and timeless were Dr. King's causes.

This 2018 program from DemocracyNow! encourages us to understand the true depth of Dr. King's work and not let the comfortable middle bleach the passion out of it. Similarly, this commentary by Bob Hennelly, gives us Dr. King's own warning about the disappointment of moderation.

A recent program on PBS Wisconsin about the women's suffrage movement was a good reminder that moderation can be a way to obstruct and delay. After more than 75 years of struggle, organizing, lobbying, marching, picketing, and being beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, women' "won" the right to vote only when one young Tennessee legislator bucked his party, his employer, and his constituents to follow the wishes of his mother. The recent passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia, must now wait for another hurdle - an arbitrary deadline - to be overcome. And meanwhile, other hard fought victories, from voting rights to environmental protections, are being wiped away.

Moderation is often advised by those who are not in the fire. They can see the glow from their balconies, maybe, but the burn of the continuing and increasing inequality is hypothetical for them. The person whose house is burning doesn't convene a committee to study which fire hose to consider purchasing and what price can be afforded. The fire of inequality and inaction - millions without health care, a planet on fire, centuries of institutional racism, an economy that can't provide basic incomes and affordable services to a huge proportion of its population, endless war,... is already raging.

We need more candidates and electeds from the "fire" class who will not be moderate in their urgency and in their solutions. We need leaders who are not afraid to call out the obstructionists and slow-walkers. We need fellow activists and voters to work and act for others, to understand the struggles the status quo creates for our own friends and families and so many others, to consider where a "just us" attitude is taking us.

In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech at Riverside Church in April, 1967, Dr. King was talking about America at war when he said, "We are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor."  It's just as true when "moderation" keeps us from thinking outside the lines, connecting with others, acting and speaking up. 

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