Is it time to reclaim the Martin Luther King Day Parade for peace, justice and Constitutional rights?

by on January 4, 2012 · 3 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Culture, History, Organizing, San Diego

Every year for over three decades, there has been a Martin Luther King Day Parade in San Diego, and this year’s is the 32nd such event.

During its first years, the Parade was a great outpouring from the African-American community in this area and their supporters who believed in King. It was the Black community of San Diego’s annual presentation of King’s words and values, and an event in honor of his leadership in overturning the Jim Crow laws of the segregationist South, and in showcasing the racism of the North and the West.

Martin Luther King was not just a savior of Black people but he was a savior of America itself. There is no doubt about this.

Yet, in past years, the Parade in King’s honor has become overwhelmed by floats from other corners of America’s society and culture, corners that stand in stark contrast to King’s values.

At first, it was comforting to see the participation by local fire departments,  law enforcement agencies, and by military components, as they were also up for glorifying King’s values. But after years of this trend, we found that despite King’s messages of peace and justice, there were more marching units from the police forces than from the churches and civil rights organizations.

One local blogger remarked:

“I stopped going four years ago, after being dismayed by the way law enforcement organizations, from FBI, Homeland Security to local sheriff and police forces had co-opted the revolutionary peaceful message of MLK. “

Also, the Parade used to at least begin in the African-American communities of San Diego, but lately, it has been re-routed into a downtown event – far from the supportive neighborhoods. During my last few efforts at participating in the Parade earlier this century as a member of the anti-Iraq war movement, I began noticing that there were often more people in the Parade than along the sidelines watching it.

These trends need to be reversed.  The original message of King has been lost by the involvement of agencies that routinely violate the human rights of Blacks, immigrants, and Americans exercising lawful dissent. And the question, is it time to reclaim the MLK Day Parade in order to emphasis King’s values of peace, justice and civil rights, is upon us.

As the first Black President signed away our Constitutional rights on New Year’s Eve with his signature on the National Defense Authorization Act, with a unpopular US war going on in Afghanistan, with the economic disaster deeply affecting Black communities across the country, and with the numbers of African-American young men in jail, prison or on parole outnumbering Black men in college, Martin Luther King’s words need to be remembered.

Something must happen so as to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together, not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right.”

Martin Luther King, Stride Toward Freedom, 1958

 In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

 Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided man.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

 A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

  Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

  “The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. We will be marching… and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy…. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

How can we be silent about this travesty toward the values of a great man. Perhaps this is an opportunity for those of us to honor what Martin Luther King really stood for.

This year’s Parade is on Sunday, January 15, 2012, at 2:00 p.m., along Harbor Drive and the Embarcardero.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar elaine marie January 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

What a good idea. Hope it gets some action.

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avatar JEC January 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Good piece – valid point.

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avatar Old Hermit Dave January 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I think MLK would understand my idea of how we got where we are today.
I look at it this way. Back in the 30’s the MAFIA increased their protection business by hiring a few terror dudes to trash your business or set fire to it, with you in it, if you said you thought you didn’t need protection. On 9/11/01 the Merchant Banker Mafia used Cheney/Rummy/Blair to allow the same type selling campaign, selling expensive protection to the United States and England.

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