Awareness · Self-Reflection

A Reflection on a Martin Luther King Event

So I was originally going to do a blog ranting about how many people at my job want to work on Martin Luther King Day, but I decided to do a blog post on yesterday’s outing instead.

My co-workers put me in a bad mood on Thursday and Friday because I felt like they didn’t care about the significance of today. Yes, they’re white so they were never affected by racism, but they could at least not want to work that day. On Friday, I was looking at upcoming events in my boyfriend’s town. I found the perfect one to make me feel better. So I decided to channel my anger into an educational opportunity for my boyfriend. He likes history and there was going to be a light lunch. Franklin loves food, especially if it’s free.

The event was a four-part event gathering people of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) in a “Journey to Peace”. This multi-faith event was created as a way to unite for peace when the 2017 inauguration was about to happen. The first event was the blood drive for people who are interested. 24 people signed up, and 16 whole units of blood were able to be used to donate. 1 unit of blood can save up to 3 lives, so up to 48 lives will be saved by the donations. The second part of the event was a light lunch. Bread, lentil soup, butternut squash soup, salad, and desserts were offered. I tried a new food, which I will talk about at the end of the month. The third event was us watching clips from movies and having a facilitated discussion afterwards. The final event was a 30-minute church service with scriptures from the Bible, Torah, and Quran; songs; and a ritual where we put tea light candles in a vase to promise that we will fight for peace and equality. As we said during the event, “Salam, Shalom, and Peace.”

We watched clips of the following movies:

  • Accidental Courtesy. In this documentary, we hear about musician Daryl Davis who meets with various members of the Ku Klux Klan to befriend them and try to learn why there are some people who hate African Americans. A few people he befriended quit the Klan
  • Malcolm X. This movie is about the life and activism of Malcolm X. He preached about a separation from white society, but his pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj, a mandatory religious duty for Muslims) made him learn that there are Muslims of all races.
  • Marshall. This movie is about Thurgood Marshall when he was a lawyer for the NAACP. He was assigned to defend a black man in Connecticut, but was not allowed to defend a fellow black man. Sam Friedman, a Jewish insurance lawyer, is assigned to defend Joseph Spell instead. Friedman is resentful at first. Trigger warning for the movie: mentions of sexual assault.

When I first stepped into the social hall where lunch and video viewing was located, I was surprised, but deeply disturbed at the lack of black people. This event is to honor someone that helped us. Why aren’t there more of us? More black people showed up when the lunch was ending, but I expected it to be a mostly black event. I decided to change that way of thinking and thought it was good that white people are here to be educated about the struggles we went through and still go through. Education is key to changing the perceptions people have about minorities. The food was vegetarian-friendly (and vegan-friendly if vegans avoid the desserts). It was a light lunch, but the soup helped to satisfy me and I didn’t feel hungry until later than usual. Drinks included sweetened ice tea, water, and lemonade. I usually don’t drink anything when I eat.

One key takeaway from this event was that change must first come from within. I first learned this in my Peacemaking class during my final semester of university. If you want to change others, you must look within yourself to see what self-improvements need to be made first. Kind of like “Love yourself before you can love others”. Another key takeaway is the message of how we need to unite with people like us instead of fighting with each other. Franklin liked the event overall, which is good. This boyfriend seems to get it, while the previous guy refused to acknowledge his privilege. I think we all felt renewed by going to this event. Go to your town’s (or nearest town’s) Patch for local events.

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