The Freedom Movement left an enduring legacy by overcoming a brutal and seemingly all-powerful form of segregation that Vincent Harding calls a “terroristic system” of violent subjugation. Its legacy now extends far beyond America’s shores, for it has ignited the hopes of millions of people waging struggles for freedom overseas.
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Martin was attuned to the Hebrew prophets, and that was their constant message: Don’t talk about loving God or being religious unless you stand with the outcasts and the weak. Jesus said the same thing. There’s no way to understand Martin’s urgency about standing with the poor without taking into consideration his deepest religious grounding.
In a city full of poets, there are few whose very lives are poetry. Carlos was one whose whole life was poetry. He radiated kindness and good will. No one can remember hearing Carlos say an unkind word about another person. His phone message was a musical invitation that included waltzing bears.
Rhode Island has already passed a Homeless Bill of Rights. Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut and Missouri are joining California in calling for one. A Homeless Bill of Rights is particularly significant today. The federal government has abandoned any pretense of its responsibility to “ensure safe, decent and affordable” housing for the poorest people.
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin accused ICE of undermining her city’s devastated economy in the middle of a recession. “Their firing is a violation of their human rights. When they say that [immigration] raids are targeting criminals, it’s not true. People who are just trying to make a living are being targeted big time.”
When I became poor, I learned that there are big jars of sugar and entire pitchers of milk available free to anyone who buys a cup of coffee. You can add enough sugar (carbohydrate) and milk (protein and fat) to relieve your hunger for a couple of hours.
The streets were alien to me. I was defenseless. Cops and security guards hassled me for just being in a particular area or store and minding my own business. And when night descended, I was scared out of my wits sleeping in doorways. I became guarded and hyper-alert.
I would have no problem with building luxury apartments if we weren’t in a housing crisis. Build for the rich, I would say. Build crazy stuff with gold-plated toilets and let them buy it. But we are in a housing crisis. The Downtown Berkeley Association tried to outlaw sitting on the sidewalk.