Creating Beloved Community Through Radical Action

January 17th, 2015

Dear ROPnet,

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed we needed to topple the triple threats of militarism, racism, and materialism/capitalism in order to truly realize Beloved Community. And we needed to use radical actions to get there.

As National Peoples Action states, “Dr. King and his fellow civil rights leaders regularly asked everyday people to put themselves in danger, facing down armed police, angry white mobs, and public officials who told them to wait. Dr. King believed in taking action and used civil disobedience, boycotts and sit-ins to disrupt business as usual, facing not just public outcry, but police dogs, water hoses, and arrest.”

Over the last months, we have seen how various movements have employed similar tactics, from the young black leadership shutting down interstates as part of Black Lives Matter to low wage workers sit-down strikes demanding $15 minimum wage and a union from Walmart and fast food restaurants. And some of us have probably found ourselves wondering if these are the best tactics. But as Martin Luther King Jr. has taught us, it is through visible, radical actions that we can force public dialogue and action and we can force the institutions of power to respond. Most recently we have seen the impact in the immigrant rights movement. It wasn’t out of the goodness of their hearts that politicians took action on immigration. It was because young immigrants and leaders held sit-ins, blocked deportation buses, and publicly and “illegally” crossed the border. It was because community groups raised the conversations in their towns. We created public dialogue, we pushed power holders, and we forced the President to take action.

As we pay homage to MLK this weekend, let’s remember this history and let’s have conversations about how this radical legacy relates to our work today. Because it is with these radical actions – direct actions, sit ins, civil disobedience – that we can transform the racist economic and political systems that perpetuate on-going war while cutting taxes for the rich and programs for the poor, that force people to work for wages so low that they turn to coworkers for food drives and public assistance programs, and that damn brown and black people to be locked up, deported or shot down in the streets.

It is also through action that we forge the lasting relationships and the justice community that will transform our communities. Whether it is an act of civil disobedience or building a human dignity group, this is how we realize Beloved Community. The strategy of civil disobedience may not be right for your group right now, but the work we do of opening up space to talk about what is happening in our communities and in our country, and talking about the multiple tactics it takes to realize change, this is also the work of building movements that win.

Thanks to all of you human dignity radicals that work town by town to transform systems of oppression and build movements. Read on for some snapshots of ways that human dignity groups around rural Oregon are embracing the legacy of MLK. This is also the work of building Beloved Community.

Warmly, Cara

Clatsop County’s Lower Columbia Diversity Project has been bringing public programs to Astoria for years. Their mission is to engage pro-actively with diversity issues in the region, educate the community on the benefits of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion, and provide a forum through which individuals, groups, and organizations may address concerns relating to diversity in the community. MLK weekend they offer multiple ways to celebrate and honor the mission and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr

“Don’t Let Go! – Keeping the Dream Alive”
College students and community members invited to a conversation with Kathleen Saadat, renowned community activist and justice leader in Oregon

Candlelight Walk
Monday, January 19th, 2015 5:30pm
Join us in a candlelight walk through downtown Astoria to honor Dr. King’s vision
 of equality, peace, and justice through non-violence. Meet at 12th & Commercial
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; 
only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Central Oregonians find multiple ways to engage in MLK’s legacy this year. On Monday, January 19, faith leadership will host Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service where over 300 volunteers will help with over 20 projects at local non-profits.

In addition, over the next 2 months Central Oregonians are invited to join a book group that engages participants in powerful exploration of race consciousness and advance our understanding of how to work for racial justice in our community. Several community organizations are joining the COCC and OSU Cascades campuses in hosting a book study on Derald Wing Sue’s book, Overcoming Our Racism: Journey to Liberation. Study circles will be occurring all around town and hosted by these groups: Trinity Episcopal Church, Central Oregon Community College, Social Justice Center, OSU Cascades, Latino Community Association, First United Methodist Church, Social Justice Team of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Peace and Social Justice Team

In Lane County, the NAACP in Eugene/Springfield will host an MLK Day March while the Community Alliance of Lane County will host their 17th annual MLK Day celebration at Springfield High School with art, music, speeches and more.

Grangers and people for peace come together in Silverton. Dr. Martin Luther King’s challenge 50 years ago to America to “make real the promises of democracy” remains today and his legacy to social and economic justice will be celebrated at the 12th Annual Silverton MLK Observance, 6:00 p.m., Monday, January 19, at the Silverton Grange, 201 Division, just off of South Water. The evening of community potluck, music, short readings and audio samplings of Dr. King’s speeches is co-sponsored by the Silverton Grange and Silverton People for Peace.

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