This weekend is MLK weekend, with many events scheduled. We have Fabulous (Second) Friday tonight, for all of you who have been homebound too long. Please come and enjoy vegetarian spaghetti and relax together … the snow is cleared! Then, on Sunday, there will be a special community fundraising concert event for the NEST program, at 4 p.m.
Sunday morning our Second Sunday collection will fund our own participation in NEST. That money will help pay for food and expenses for our host week, which starts January 17 (sign up to participate Sunday).
Also on Sunday, we will welcome new members. Please come! It will be a wonderful time.
My topic this week is Bayard Rustin, a gay man who organized the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Ten leaders of social justice organizations spoke on that day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), made “remarks” remembered as “I Have a Dream.” Following that, Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, titular Director of the March, led the crowd in a pledge. I thought I’d transcribe the pledge so you can read it, all these years later:
Standing before the Lincoln Memorial on the 28th of August in the centennial year of Emancipation, I affirm my complete personal commitment to the struggle for jobs and freedom for Americans!
To fulfill that commitment, I pledge that I will not relax until victory is won.
– I pledge that I will join and support all actions undertaken in good faith in accord with the time-honored democratic tradition of non-violent protest, of peaceful assembly and petition, and of redress through the courts and the legislative process!
– I pledge to carry the message of the March to my friends and neighbors back home and arouse them to an equal commitment and equal effort.
– I will march and I will write letters.
– I will demonstrate and I will vote.
– I will work to make sure that my voice and those of my brothers ring clear and determined from every corner of our land.
– I pledge my heart and my mind and my body, unequivocally and without regard to personal sacrifice,
to the achievement of social peace through social justice.
– I so pledge. (1963)
What do you pledge to do? What would you pledge your heart and mind and body to? Where do you find worth in the world? What can we do?
The work of civil rights was much broader than King and the SCLC, that it included Protestant, Jewish and Catholic Justice groups, that it included unions, the National Urban League, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the NAACP, and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE.) The work of civil rights was national and state-by-state and town-by-town, and succeeded in its goals by growing communities of resilience. Gathering, singing, working, praying.
The March on Washington included a tribute to women freedom fighters: Daisy Bates, Diane Nash Bevel, Mrs. Medgar Evers, Mrs. Herbert Lee, Rosa Parks and Gloria Richardson – as women were identified in those days. They were only a few of the thousands who worked, often unnoticed, as *Brothers and Sisters.
This Sunday we don’t have Marian Anderson or Mahalia Jackson to sing, Dylan or Peter, Paul and Mary to warm us up. But we do have the Yarmouth Chamber Singers to lead us in songs sung that day. See you Sunday.