Learning from Laughter and the Trees: He Comes with the Mountains

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Cedar at the Poor People’s Campaign action on June 18 in Detroit.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“You have rocks in your bag.”

Stunned, I said, “it’s possible. I have kids.” I searched frantically through my bag that I had carefully packed that morning in hopes of getting quickly through security at the 36th District Court before court. I tried to gloss over the contraband tics tacs and pencil I had hidden at the bottom- necessities for keeping a 2-year-old silent in the court room that day. I can’t find anything. They wait, “Check another pocket.” Sure enough, there in the front, I find them. I pull out hands filled with mountain stones, Detroit River rocks, and pine cones all covered in sand that pours through my fingers. I hand them over to the security guard who doesn’t flinch as I apologize and she heads for the trash can. Continue reading

How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma Is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?

H14_Ploughshare-activist-arrest-on-US-submarine-base3By Frida Berrigan. Re-posted from truth-out.org.

“Our grandma is in jail,” Madeline tells a woman wrestling a shopping cart at Target.

“She went over a war fence and tried to make peace,” Seamus adds helpfully. “They arrested her, and she is in jail now.”

“Where?” the woman asks, looking from them to me in disbelief and maybe pity.

“We don’t remember,” the kids say, suddenly done with their story and ready to make passionate pleas for the colorful items in the dollar section over the woman’s shoulder. Continue reading

A Pilgrimage of Belovedness

Ebenezer copy (1)By Tommy Airey

Way back in the wide-open fields of the Clinton years, the seed of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was planted in me during a semester with Professor Bill Tuttle at the University of Kansas. Way back then, I was attending Campus Crusade bible study on Wednesdays, drinking a 12-pack of beer on Fridays and going to an all-white Evangelical church on Sundays. My spiritual life was a complete circus. Way back then, I struggled to make the simple connection that Dr. King was a Christian and that his perspective on Jesus was completely different than what my white Evangelical mentors and heroes were pitching. Continue reading

His Faith Demanded It

ConeFrom James Cone’s The Cross and The Lynching Tree (2013):

Just as Jesus knew he could be executed when he went to Jerusalem, Martin Luther King, Jr., knew that threats against his life could be realized in Memphis.  Like Jesus’ disciples who rejected the idea that his mission entailed his suffering and death (Mk 8:31-32), nearly everyone in King’s organization vigorously opposed his journey to Memphis, not only because of the dangers but because of the need to focus on the coming Poor People’s Campaign in Washington.  But King, like Jesus, felt he had no choice: he had to go to Memphis and aid the garbage workers in their struggle for dignity, better wages, and a safer work place.  He had to go because his faith demanded it.

Remembering King’s Assassination 50 Years Ago

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Photo credit: The Guardian

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

I remember precisely where I was when I got the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination. It was my freshman year in college, a midwestern liberal arts school, and I’d just walked into the lounge of my dormitory when a bulletin broke into regular TV programing. The lone other student, whose face and name I mercifully do not recall, was seated high on the back of an overstuffed black leather chair. He muttered, “Somebody finally got that n****r.” I remember running the length of hall to the pay phone booth and calling my folks in Detroit, weeping into the receiver. In those tears, something shifted in me vocationally that day which bears on who I am. Continue reading

If We Aren’t Willing to Tell the Truth

LorraineFrom Jyarland Daniels, the executive director of Harriet Speaks:

April 4th will be upon us soon, and we will read articles like this for days. I want to ask (read: beg) you to remember language matters.

This article says, “50 Years After Dr. King’s Death…” “Death” is also used throughout the article. If we stop and think about the word “death” for a moment we see history is being sanitized and re-written before our very eyes.

You see, “Death” is the word we use when someone does of old age, or perhaps after a battle with an illness, or even an accident. But Dr. King was MURDERED. And not only that, but we now know that this government was complicit in his murder. 

Language matters. Words matter. If we aren’t willing to tell the truth and use the right language for how King died, then we aren’t ready to talk about what his life meant.

#RevolutionOfValues: A Week of Creative Action

RevolutionThe U.S. Department of Arts and Culture has no connection whatsoever to the government.  It is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.  The USDAC is  calling on artists, creative organizers, concerned citizens, and all community members to join together from April 2-8, 2018, to draw inspiration from and breathe new life into the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., strengthening our commitment to speak truth to power and sparking creative action in the year ahead. Below are some ideas that the USDAC has provided to help spark the imagination.

MORE INFO ON #REVOLUTIONOFVALUES:

“Radical” is a much maligned word: it comes from the Latin radix (root), and refers to anything that goes to the root of the matter, rather than tinkering with the leaves and branches. Many people have downplayed Dr. King’s deep spiritual and political radicalism, trying to whitewash his true views. Now it is more important than ever to use our creativity to nourish the roots of love and justice. Continue reading