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Now Is the Time (In Memory of MLK)

Posted on January 18, 2021
Statue in honor of Martin Luther King in Washington DC

These are troubling times indeed for America and for many places around the world — times that have brought forth an array of human challenges, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, confused, and angered. Yet through the chaos is the promise of hope and a calling for resiliency of the human spirit and courageous leadership.

This week the world is waiting with bated breath for the exit of a president responsible for inciting a riot at the US Capitol fuelled by white supremacist rage — while also waiting for the inauguration of a veteran civil servant and the first woman of color vice-president, who are committed to bringing back order, decency, and integrity to the White House.

It is also fitting that we’re celebrating a man who had committed his life to the undoing of white supremacy and to working for equal rights for Blacks and Native Americans. Martin Luther King Jr. is a clear example of a leader who created his world and was created by his world. He was called forth to lead millions of people, of all colors, towards a fair and just society, where everyone benefits from the promises of democracy — prosperity for all people.

He was a voice for peaceful protest. He taught us that in spite of the urgency for racial justice, we must not allow bitterness and hatred to lead our actions. Instead, we must lean into dignity, discipline, and our creative power over violence. And we must not let white rage lead us to distrust all white people. For many are here in the fight for social justice.

I was in my teens when I first learned about the racist history of North America that began with the genocide of millions of Indigenous peoples and the slavery of Africans, and the continued inequity of people of color. I owe it to my geography teacher, the only Black teacher in my high school, a social activist, and a West Indian like me, who encouraged us to learn about Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, and of course the Reverend Dr. King. It was then I began to see my identity apart from the dominant culture that I grew up in.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve read the infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered directly across from the US Capitol — the stage of this week’s inauguration ceremony. And in reading it again, this particular line jumped out for me: “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” 

In many ways, we’ve seen progress since that speech. We’re witnessing greater representation of diversity in our elected officials, schools, workplaces, media, athletics, and the arts. We’re not done.

Now is the time, in the wake of the recent surge of American white rage, police violence, and the Black Lives Matter movement, that we must continue the work King started until all systems of oppression targeting race, ethnicity, faith, gender, age, and ability are undone — until we can live in a society that is truly free, inclusive, and equitable for all people. 

In memory of King, let’s pay our respects for his leadership, vision, resilience, and commitment to the greater good. And let’s pay our respects for his laying of the foundation for all change agents who came after him, who have inspired us to continue the fight for a just society, so that future generations could live into what he had envisioned for all of us — prosperity for all people.

Now is our time.

Author:
Charles Sue-Wah-Sing, CTI Faculty
https://www.suewahsing.com

What People Are Saying

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful writing as it pertains to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I keep coming back to the phrase from the Bible, “…For such a time as this…”

    Such a flurry of emotions – from being in awe that we are literally seeing history unfold right in front of us – to being crushed at the level of ignorance we’ve been taught in our own school rooms.

    We have to do better. This is our time. Thank you for taking the time to draw attention to this. Better representation is a good start, but we have SO far to go. Let us not address this one day a year, but live with a fire in our bellies that no one should go to bed hungry or without shelter to keep them out of harm’s way. That we all get EQUAL education – and one that has been remedied of the white-washing that takes place in schools today.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. So well said and thank you for sharing your experience & thoughts. These types of post are needed to offset & redirect the niceties that most (white) people are posting on social media today.

    And great reminder:
    “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

    Reply

  3. I appreciate this article and intimate look into Charles’ lived experience, in honor of MLK, who, I’m just now learning, after realizing how much my former denial and “positive attitude” as a “nice white lady” has contributed to the dis-ease of our country for hundreds of years. This particular holiday, I’m exploring and UNlearning from the quotes where Dr. King called out white supremacy and the ripple effect it’s had on health, economics, and so many layers of built-up denial in our system as a whole.
    As a community builder, this message resonates with me, as Charles says: “let’s pay our respects for his leadership, vision, resilience, and commitment to the greater good. And let’s pay our respects for his laying of the foundation for all change agents who came after him, who have inspired us to continue the fight for a just society, so that future generations could live into what he had envisioned for all of us…”. With the rumblings of change in our culture over this past year, may we all raise our voices for justice and peace.
    Now IS our time, indeed.
    I’m also learning that it’s often not enough to simply be an ally. Being an “accomplice” in “good trouble”, using our voices, centering our BIPOC sisters and brothers, there are so many ways we can keep the momentum of reform and real, lasting systemic change moving forward, so that the foundation laid by MLK and his followers will strengthen and be fortified. This is my quest for our future generations as well.

    Reply

    1. Lynn, SO true – accomplices in good trouble! It is long longer (and never has been) acceptable to be a bystander – as white people, we must ACTIVELY participate in the work to dismantle the systems that have fueled the rise in racist behavior, violence & oppression!!

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    2. Thank you for this eloquent and succinct commentary!

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  4. I am inspired by this beautiful tribute to our late Martin Luther King. At the same time, I am moved to sadness due to the recent insurgence. I am grateful that MLK was not here to witness this heartbreaking occurrence . God Bless his soul.

    Reply

  5. Charles, what a gorgeous article! I’m thinking of your one black teacher, and the difference they made on your life. I’m thinking about the difference that Dr. King, and Malcolm and Rosa, Angela and Marcus, had on so many people. And the difference you have had on me, in the short time I have known you.

    Thank you for the call to hope, resilience, and human decency.

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  6. Charles,

    Thank you so much for lending your voice to this sacred remembrance and for your inspiring words during such a tumultuous time socially and politically in the United States and the larger world.

    As I read this I was struck with a concept that I carry with me often, but this time in a deeper way. There is so much UN-LEARNING TO DO. So much. To start there is the shedding of inaccurate stories of our history spun for very few to maintain dominance and control, the letting go of assumptions and preconceived notions of others, the reckoning of what this all means for myself and letting go of all that blinds me from truly seeing the reality we are all living in. Maybe this is what the process of collective liberation feels like…shedding skin like a snake, which are symbols of creative life force, rebirth, transformation and healing.

    Thank you for your generosity in writing this post, in supporting CTI in seeing itself and its part in dominant culture norms and for lending your beautiful spirit to all you do.

    Reply

  7. Charles, I appreciate you commemorating Dr. King’s life and legacy by sharing one of your own personal stories of identity. Dr. King and the other leaders in the movement that you mentioned inspire me as an activist.

    I’m grateful to be affiliated with Co-Active, a community of practice that takes the human potential for ALL beings seriously. As a white woman I am reawakened to my own privilege and hunger to create a world more worthy of the dream Dr. King outlined.

    Reply

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