How would all Americans be thoughtful about Martin Luther King today? The major story to appear in connection with this commemoration was not positive. Headline from Atlanta's City Guide:
Historic Church Martin Luther King,
Jr.'s Neighborhood Facing Foreclosure
The church, Higher Groud Empowerment Center, a center of Atlanta's Vine City community for more than 100 years, faced foreclosure by your favorite neighbor and mine--a big bank.
A last minute protest by Occupy Atlanta seems to have halted the move for the moment. According to the Huffington Post Occupy this action follows a recent wave of anti-foreclosure campaigns that use occupy movements to delay home foreclosures.
Where are we with "the dream" King described? How many teachers of color will talk about it. And white teachers like Ernie Brill in Massachusetts who heard the speech in 1963. Last week, because the day itself is a closed school day, he asked students to analyze a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks written the day after King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.
Should it be a holiday? Holidays around notable American leaders have been commodified, becoming shoppers' specials. This leads young African Americans like 29 year-old Shukree Hassan Tilghman in 2010 to call for an end to Black History Month:
"But we are talking about who belongs in the pantheon of black heroes, and who doesn’t. And that’s the real problem. We should seize this opportunity to retire Black History Month, which has become an empty ritual of idol-worship that retards real historical progress."
Tilghman has made a film, "More than a Month," through ITVS and the National Black Programming Consortium. Thanks to the University of Oregon's Journalism School the film will be shown in Portland on the evening of February 14 at the Turnbull Center. If you are in Portland, Oregon, please join me to see it. Or take five minutes to watch this clip.
Seeing the filmmaker's last name, I recall there is a Tilghman Island on the eastern shore of Maryland, where Frederick Douglass and Harriet Ross Tubman fled from slavery. Jamie Stiehm, writing in the New York Times recently, noted its singularity "... in no part of the state was slavery as brutal as the Eastern Shore." Could Shukree Hassan Tilghman be a descendent of slaves once held on Tilghman Island?
The Oregonian reported on a release this very day of a report card by a coalition of seven groups representing Oregon's communities of color. They evaluated the state legislature's effectiveness in 2011 year in moving bills to improve racial equity. The Partnership for Safety and Justice in Portland is a member of the coalition.
"The grades are not good....some of the most crucial [possible] solutions were overlooked....Top priorities failed."
To use Martin Luther King Day for this significant effort is a fine model that might be emulated by other municipalities.
UPDATE... 65,000 PETITIONS made a big bank back down.
January 17 was the day the Atlanta church was saved through efforts of Rebuild the Dream's call for petitions. Find out more about the American Dream Movement HERE. Signing petitions does matter.