my previous blog for the first part of this story] Because the pastor, Rev. Hagler, had invited participants from the occupy DC and wall street movements to the church. He proposed that the occupy wall street movement were the new prophets of this day and age. That Martin would have been a part of the movement. Rev. Hagler said people like to white wash MLK's legacy and choose not to see the radicalness of his message.
I largely agree with this viewpoint, but not for the same reason. I think Americans are really mad right now. I do think the tea party and the occupy movement are simply rural and urban, southern and northern, coastal and inland, inversions of one another; I strongly suspect Martin Luther King, Jr. would have applauded, "bravo!" I tend to believe he would have sided more with the occupy movement because of the nature of the politics surrounding the situation. However, it should be duly noted that both of these movements are standing up for what they believe, using the tactics of non-violent resistance to advocate for change via the political system. Perhaps even more importantly, and some will be mad at me for saying this and maybe bring up the Koch brothers, but…both movements are all about the "little guy" not being beaten up by corporate interests and having their voices squashed simply because they don't have the same amount of money to buy influence as someone richer.
But back to the MLK day service: some of the occupy protestors got up and spoke before the congregation. The words of one of them really struck me. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of what he said, "I get spit on a lot and told to get a job. But I don't hate them…they just don't understand…they're also a part of the 99%, like me." Now it just so happens that even though he was dressed in work type boots and some flannel-type shirt (NOT de-riguer for a black church), he's also got long blond hair and that don-johnson-kinda-stubble. He could easily be the model on the cover of some crunchy granola romance novel or some such. It always helps when the spokesmen look pretty good. But this is frankly the essence of the non-violent movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. pioneered in America. Based off of Christ's teaching that, because sometimes others know not what they do, you need not hate the other. Nelson Mandela utilized the same approach when he was imprisoned. It makes us larger as human beings when we choose to look at things this way.
I ended up being asked to sing the next day on WPFW (89.3FM) the song I sang at church, Duke Ellington's powerful and beautiful ballad, Come Sunday. I had a chance to meet with some of the protestors and all were very focused on what they felt needed to be done. They understood that they needed to reach out to people so the movement would grow and have solid understandings of their goals and interests; that and they were just nice people who had varied backgrounds and where not "serial" protestors as the right sometimes like to call them.
All in all, one of my most interesting days in awhile. Plus I had to conduct the choir with a 26 lb toddler on my hip. That was a unique experience to say the least….