Fifty Years From Today, What Will You Say?
This Wednesday, April 4, marks the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. As we reflect on his life’s work, the movement he led, and the action his legacy inspired, we must ask ourselves: how far have we come?
If the results and the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election are any indication, we still have a long way to go to end racism. We elected a president whose rhetoric emboldens a dangerous and burgeoning white supremacist movement.
We live in a society where Native American voices continue to be unacknowledged, their rights erased, and their sacred land degraded; a nation where the future of DREAMers and immigrant families remains in jeopardy; and a country where Black lives continue to be claimed by police brutality and their names reduced to hashtags.
On April 4, we’re proud to be partnering with the National Council of Churches (NCC) to bring thousands to the National Mall for the A.C.T. to End Racism Rally. This rally is just the beginning of the NCC’s multi-year campaign — and life-long commitment — to acknowledge America’s racist past, confront its racist present, and take transformative, long-lasting action to end racism.
Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we don’t live single issue lives. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew this. Malcolm X knew this.” Confronting racism requires all of us to unite in solidarity, as different our struggles, and our paths to justice may be. For white folks and non-black people of color including myself, we must first critically assess our own selves, acknowledging our own privilege and the ways in which we are complicit in perpetuating racist attitudes, actions, and policies.
We must educate ourselves by listening to our fellow people of color. By building a platform for them to share their stories and voices and by having hard, real conversations to educate our families and our friends, only then can we start to be allies advocating for racial justice and equity.
Our history is bleak and ugly, but today is a moment of extraordinary protest and activism. Scientists are organizing for public office and fighting fiction with facts. The Women’s March and movement, led by activists Linda Sarsour, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland, are ushering in a new era of feminism that is intersectional and inclusive. The Parkland teens are reigniting the gun control conversation, showing that youth are, and have always been, at the center of our country’s activism — and our nation’s future.
Fifty years from today, we will once again ask ourselves: how far have we come? Now is our chance to stop history in its tracks and change its course. We still have a lot of hard work to do, but as in 1968, we are once again witnessing an awakening of the people’s power. What will you do with yours?