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(a few weeks after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA)
Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation – University of California, Santa Cruz
February 9, 2017, Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
“Mr Chancellor, esteemed dignitaries and colleagues, faculty and students,
ladies and gentlemen…….
It’s about time you started to truly awaken.
Welcome to the challenges and the opportunities of creative struggle!
I have been tossing and turning in my grave for years now wondering
What is it going to take to get you to do more than just text and tweet?
What is it going to take to get on to your feet and into the streets?
What is it going to take for you to find your voice,
exercise your rights and hard won choice?
Just what is it going to take to get you to truly see?
What would it take for you to actually honor me?
Well now, I do appreciate the King parades,
And all of the avenues that have been dedicated in my name.
It’s nice that folks get some rest on a little holiday.
These things are commendable. But we need more than that!
You have to stay in the streets.
You have to continuously find ways to do constructive protest
and conscientious objection.
You need a vision of inclusion.
You need goals, you need plans, you need strategies.
You need to agitate, educate, and liberate.
Now you know, I am a preacher of the Gospel and that anything that we ever do
needs to always be done with the context of the love ethic.
I am talking about the Agapeo love, the Oneness love.
Where we are told to love our God
with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and all of our mind.
To love our neighbor as our self,
and also to love our enemies.
And I am so glad that Jesus did not say to like your enemies
for it is kind of hard to like people bombing your house.
But you love them.
Unless you are fighting out of love, it is just a fight.
Don’t get caught up in divisiveness of hate because when you begin to hate
you become as low as the thing that you are hating.
Hate is like drinking a gallon of poison and praying the other person will die.
Furthermore, you lose all moral authority with ones who can
feel your contempt for them.
Let us remember the words of Frederick Douglass,
who was often ridiculed and accused for his willingness
to work with and to collaborate with the so-called “oppressors.”
But when you are moving forward to get things done,
there comes the point when there is the necessity to work with every one,
particularly those who are already in seats of power.
You have to win them over.
You want to work with them, not just against them.
As Douglass said ‘I am willing to work with anybody to do right,
and with nobody to do wrong.’
At a moment like this, it is important that we keep hope alive.
To get some hope, to maintain your hope, and sustain your hope
I think it is right there in those four letters – H-O-P-E………..
heart open, possibilities, and engagement.
Keep your heart open, perceive possibilities, and stay engaged.
Oh yes… It’s about time.
Welcome to the constructive struggle.
It is time for this renewed sense of mutuality.
From Little Rock to Standing Rock, from Roe v Wade to Proposition 8,
from global warming to refugees swarming,
walls dividing Berlin to the new wall encasing the US border,
we must continue to be drum majors for justice.
This nation has always been built upon the backs
of those who had no papers and who had no power.
I died trying to unite the movements to stand up with a single voice
against the triple evils of racism, poverty, and militarism.
I demanded that we take a different course and get out of Viet Nam
or we would wind up exactly where we were headed.
And I wish I hadn’t been so right because….
Here we are.
We need to do an about face.
For it is still true that any nation that spends more on war
than programs of upliftment is headed for spiritual bankruptcy.
I used to say that the days of segregation are over, you can be uncertain of that,
That only thing uncertain was how costly the segregationist
were going to make the funeral.
And so it is now with supremacy.
The days of supremacy are over!!
Whether it is global supremacy, national supremacy, partisan supremacy,
religious supremacy, racial supremacy, ethnic supremacy, gender supremacy,
all kind of supremacy. . . . . IT’S OVER!!!!!! Mark my words.
And we can still see just how costly the funeral is.
But remember it is a funeral, none the less.
In fact, the veracity of the tenacity is proof positive that they know
a new day is on the horizon.
It is affirmation of sorts that our cause of equality is not only a threat,
but has already disrupted the status quo.
Remember that no lie can live forever.
That truth crushed to earth will rise and rise again.
That the arch of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.
Freedom shall reign from every mountain side, Oh Yes!
And freedom shall reign from every barrio and ghetto –
from Motown to Chinatown,
from suburban valleys to skid row alleys,
from factories to Ivy Leagues,
from prisons to painted deserts,
from cities from sea to shining sea we will retrieve our creed–
And we will let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
This is our charge today – ‘Keep Hope Alive’
Keep your heart open, perceive possibilities, and stay engaged!!!!
And as they used to say,
‘The revolution will not be televised and bring your lunch.’
It’s going to be a long time.”
MLK Jr’s Address through Rev Deborah L. Johnson at UCSC MLKJr Convocation 2.9.17 © 2017 Rev Deborah L. Johnson