January 20, 2003: The national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. was celebrated in Sacramento with a march from the Oak
Park Community Center to the west steps of the State Capitol, where
a memorial to Dr. King took place. To prepare for this event, I
checked the Internet and came upon an account of MLK's partipation
in the Sanitation Workers' strike in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.
That was where and when MLK was assassinated, but before this tragic
event occurred, he made an eloquent speech on behalf of black workers
striking for union representation (and accompanying issues) with
the city of Memphis. In this "I've Been to the Mountaintop"
speech he said:
"And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period
is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have
to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple
with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it.
Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now,
have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they
just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and
nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence."
The MLK march in Sacramento took place during a time when war with
Iraq seems imminent. A diverse group of people participated, finding
wisdom on a variety of subjects in Dr. King's words. There were
Buddhists here, people from the anti-war movement, the NAACP, Labor
unions, someone advocating alternative energy, students, and many
more. Since Woods and I are in Unions, we focused on Labor,, but
we enlarged our vision to some other groups, too.