MLK Day 2018

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Dr. King.

I have always been in awe and intrigued by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In awe of his oratorical genius and intrigued by his message which is eternal and as relevant as it has ever been.
This MLK Day—which would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday—arrives at a teachable moment. Let’s hope we learn. Because clearly we have a lot to learn.
In 2018, we are still struggling with race, still wrestling with hatred and violence.

Our discourse is often disgusting, violent, hurtful and ignorant.
We are better than this..we better be.
America is an idea, not a race Sen. Lindsey Graham noted this week.
We were built on ideals and values. But those ideals and values—freedom and equality chief among them—have always been locked in a struggle with forces that would deny both.
It was that struggle that MLK devoted and ultimately lost his life pursuing.
He was not alone.

Many others have been devoted to Dr. King’s dream, which is the promise of America. Many others lost their lives too. Or died before we can truly proclaim that we as a people are free at last.

This blog assiduously avoids national politics. But sometimes what happens in Washington touches us here in our community.
And so the President’s comments on immigration whether “tough” —as he asserts they were —or profane —as was widely reported impact us. They affect us in profound and deep ways.

I have long contended that Delray is America in 16 square miles.
We have it all here. Rich and poor. Young and old. We are a rich tapestry of ethnicities that make us a fascinating and culturally rich community.
I’ve have always felt our diversity was an immense strength. But while I think we have navigated some very hard issues better than many cities in America, I still believe that we wrestle with race in Delray Beach.

That does not make us unique. But I’ve always believed we had the potential to be a national example for how we can to work to build trust, create opportunities and solve challenges through dialogue, collaboration and commitment.
All three elements are critical.
Dialogue: because how and even if we converse is important.
Collaboration: there can be no progress unless everyone works together.
Commitment: communities have to commit to the long term, otherwise you will lose traction and often slide backwards.
So how are we doing?
You be the judge.
I think we need work in all three areas.
Our dialogue often includes talking past each other which makes it hard to collaborate. And commitment can’t come just during an election cycle. It has to be the way you roll. All the time.

My Delray experience has been blessed by relationships with a slew of civic giants who devoted themselves to equality, healthy neighborhoods, education, history, civil rights, politics and economic opportunity.
People like C. Spencer Pompey, H. Ruth Pompey, Elizabeth Wesley, David Randolph, Zack Straghn, Bill Condry, Yvonne Odom, Red Odom, Vera Farrington, Mr. and Mrs. Strainge, Beatrice Tyson, Ernestine Holliday, Frances Carter, Sam and Loretta McGee, Jimmy Weatherspoon, Tony Newbold, Rev. Thomas, Nadine Hart, Joe and Carolyn Gholston and the list of leaders goes on and on. They taught us that progress was possible through dialogue, collaboration and commitment.
Today, I see that legacy live on through initiatives like the Community Land Trust, The Knights of Pythagoras, SD Spady Museum, The Elders, the EJS Project and the promising Set Transformation Plan championed by the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition. Of course there’s more, which is why Delray Beach is so promising. It’s why we remain a beacon.
All are in service to and in pursuit of MLK’s Dream.
It’s in all of our interests that they succeed. It’s up to all of us to ensure that they do.

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