Thursday, January 17, 2008


IN JUST a few days, the world will once again reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Much has changed since his death 40 years ago. It is no longer illegal or dangerous for people of colour to live, go to school or socialize with whites. Yet in a city like Halifax, it is obvious that blacks and whites still live in two solitudes.

And speaking of solitudes, how about the poor and people of means? A lot of people don’t know that Martin Luther King’s last campaign, and his most unsuccessful effort, was to make poverty as much a matter of conscience as race. His "Poor People’s Campaign" was not universally supported even by his followers, who thought it diluted his central cause.

I remain disappointed by the approaches taken by leaders in my generation to tackle these challenges. I think leaders in the 1960s spoke to marginalized people in a hopeful voice. There was a sense that if we could only remove the barriers of racism and classism that enslaved people, the sky was the limit. Today, as I listen to leaders who speak for those in marginalized communities, I have the sense that their fallback position remains passive support programs. To me, true justice is not only the equity of wealth but the self-confidence that my dreams and your dreams are possible, and that we have it within ourselves to make this happen.

On the other hand, we have the smug indignation of the "haves." I think the middle-class too easily imagine that our status was accomplished through some act of our own. We dismiss all of the advantages we were given. We assume that marginalized people have made bad choices, while we made excellent ones.

It is most ironic that...(whole thing here)

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