Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"The fierce urgency of now"

While the national holiday honoring him is this coming Monday, January 15 is the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He would be 80 years old this year.

I just read through his historic speech against the Vietnam War. In this speech at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967--exactly one year to the day before he would be assassinated while in Memphis to support the sanitations workers' strike--he spoke passionately about "the fierce urgency of now" in calling for an end to the war. Both his stance against the war and his support of the workers' struggle reflected the direction in which he was moving, toward linking up the civil rights struggle with all movements for social justice and liberation. Many are convinced that this is why he was killed.

No one can know what Dr. King would be doing and saying if he were alive today. But when I read his April 4, 1967, speech I can't help but think that the people of Gaza would find a friend in this great fighter for freedom and equality. I can't help but think that what he said about Vietnam he would also say about the current assault against Palestine, which is fully funded by U.S. tax dollars.
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. ...

Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.
In what I believe to be the spirit of Dr. King, the spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood, of solidarity with the suffering and oppressed, and in dedication to his memory, I'm posting this link to a statement just issued by Jews in Solidarity with Palestine.