Archive for the ‘Martin Luther King’ Category

>MLK Day, the most shocking injustice

January 18, 2010

>It is difficult to stay focused on the positive when so many lies are being spread, and so much truth being bent. Maybe I can put some of that together in the next few days, I really sense a danger to our country from the new KKK, the Teabaggers.

But today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was fortunate enough to attend the Unity Breakfast in Birmingham. The theme of the breakfast was “Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and a Human Right.”

My first observation was about the diversity there. Color, sexual orientation, religion, even political party – not!

I did not see one person that I could identify or suspect was a republican. That is not surprising, as they seek to divide, rather than unite. But I digress – that goes more with my future topic.

I could write much about the event, but I want to focus on the 2nd place Essay winner, Trenton Z. Hearns, a senior at Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer. Twenty-two essays were submitted, and the top three received recognition along with a monetary award. Congratulations to Trenton. Here is his essay.

Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and a Human Right

The year is 2009, and The House of Representatives recently passed the most inclusive health care bill in our nation’s history. Yet, it took the nation, whose Declaration of Independence suggests life as a divine right to every human, two hundred forty-five years to pass a bill that would enhance the quality of any of its citizen’s lives. An even more astounding reality, finance is a component of the reason many of these soon-to-be health care newcomers have been denied this lifeline for so long. So health care, once an intangible amenity to minorities, has become scarcely available to Americans despite ethnicity. Also, in a millennium where the economy of the world’s wealthiest nation is gasping for breath, some citizens are left without jobs. In most cases, employers supplement the individual’s health care costs. Now, what is to come of the unemployed aside from a new burden, which was once a beneficial service?


The United States of America’s Declaration of Independence clearly lists life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as man’s unalienable rights from God. One’s right to optimal physical and mental health affects the quality and longevity of this right to live, especially when accessibility is the limiting factor. While in Chicago at the 1966 National Convention of the Medical committee of Human Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Furthermore, any factors negatively affecting the God-given right of life can, by common knowledge of good and evil, be deemed wicked by all men. This nation under God has gone nearly three centuries depriving many citizens of health care, a necessity. This deprivation has made health care so limited that it has been considered a luxury by many of those who could not afford it and an amenity to those who could afford it.


“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,” is what Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. told other concerned religious leaders in a meeting at Riverside Church in New York City in his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967). Fortunately, this health care plan is a newly implemented program of upward mobility. Unfortunately, this country waited forty-two years after hearing this statement to take action. Finance should not be one of the reasons forty million adult citizens did not receive health care in 2005, while the government splurged on an eighty-five billion dollar shopping spree in Iraq that same year. Since when has the preservation of life in America become a stepchild to the government? Evidently, this nation under God was indeed facing Dr. King’s predicted spiritual demise.


As well as those in poverty, the rest of the country recently found itself in a deficit that persists today. In 2008, the United States suffered its worst economic decline since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. As the economy declined in the United States, the number of unemployed citizens soared. In that same year, one hundred fifty-eight million non-elderly Americans were covered by employer-sponsored insurance and two million, six hundred thousand Americans were unemployed. The newly unemployed citizens, who relied on their employers to supplement health care costs, were now either totally uninsured because of unemployment and prior inability to afford health care, or struggling to keep the services they had become accustomed to. Thus making health care, a right, their personal responsibility. Who values working Americans more, employers who provide health benefits or a government that has not matched those benefits?


Thankfully, those Americans along with many more will not be missing these essential services any longer. The new health care legislation will cover ninety-six percent of Americans. Injustice-free, this grants health care to Americans despite health condition or income. Finally, this nation under god has extended an offer to its citizens that will prolong the quality of their life, liberty and pursuits of happiness.


I have written about health care being a right in several Western Tribune columns, here a re a couple of recent ones.

Here, from Sept. 30, 2009, and here, Sept. 23, 2009. Also, here is last year’s MLK post about King’s support of health care.

We can only hope that similar sentiments are being expressed across the country today, but nowhere is the urgency greater than in Massachusetts, where Republican candidate Scott Brown has announced his intention to deny health care to the uninsured in Alabama and across the country, and to allow health care costs to continue to skyrocket, (those were not his words, but that is what he will do) should he win. Let’s hope the fair minded people of that state come out in support of Martha Coakley and elect her to the U. S. Senate.

And while we are talking progress, let’s hope Birmingham voters can look beyond the outright lies by the Bell campaign about Patrick Cooper and elect Cooper as the new mayor of Birmingham

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>Bits and Pieces for $1000, Alex

January 15, 2010

>Karma

Yesterday, NBC 13 could not receive the satellite feed for The 700 Club and had to air an older program. A blessing for Birmingham. No Pat Robertson. Well, no current Pat Robertson, anyway.

Unity

On Monday Bobby and I will be attending the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast, where the overall theme is “Health Care: A Personal Responsibility and A Human Right.” That is right up my alley. Dr. Ed LaMonte will be the keynote speaker.

Thanks to a generous donation we will be sitting at the Equality Alabama table.

Haiti

Yesterday I thought I might be going to Haiti to help in the relief effort, but the opportunity didn’t come through. But I am prepared to go. I have all the necessary vaccinations and passport and Caribbean disaster experience (here, here, here and here and ICS and NIMS training.

So if you know of an organization that needs me let me know. I’ve contacted several to let them know I am available.

Birmingham mayor’s race.

Will Birmingham elect a mayor who is having his wages garnished (William Bell) or one who says he will forgo his mayor’s salary (or donate it or whatever) in order to save the city money (Patrick Cooper)?

Here are several videos where Cooper outlines his vision and plan for the city.

Dreams

You’ve heard this song as background music during a commercial for a new lawyer TV show The Deep End. Brandi Carlile and Dreams. Watch the official video, where she is singing from an Avatar-like tree (well the best we can do on planet earth) and in front of Mardi Gras like props and with great outfits and instruments for the band. Thanks Brandi for allowing us to embed this.

or a live version from Studio Q.

Carlile is a lesbian, by the way.

>Almost Divine

January 19, 2009

> 1 Day. One day, and our country is racing toward becoming a more perfect union.

Picture credit Hell for Leather magazine

This is a picture of Walter Villa on a 250 RR Harley-Davidson/ Aermacchi in 1976 at the Nürburgring. The person who posted the picture said, “And yes, that numeral 1 on the number-plate means what you think it means.”

And number 1 for our country ascends to the presidency in 1 day.

Programming Note: Bessemer Opinions will no longer be posting comments of a hateful nature. This site is not a community forum for debate. Bessemer Opinions is about moving forward, both in our community and in our country. Comments that bring people or groups of people down, without cause, do nothing to help our community or country.

“Almost Divine”. Those are the word used by Dianne Mills to describe the convergence of the Martin Luther King Jr, holiday with the inaugural ceremonies of Barack Obama. Dianne hosted a party yesterday to celebrate.

But today is reserved for tributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch this video tribute from Park Community Church in Chicago. Oh, it’s different.

Read my post from last year, since Health Care (and war) is still an issue: Martin Luther King Jr: Pro Public Health and Anti War .

If King were still alive, I am sure he would be offering an inaugural prayer. Instead, it was offered by Bishop Gene Robinson yesterday. Here it is. Even if you are not particularly spiritual, read this prayer, as it embodies the spirit of our nation, and if we all heed its words, our nation will soar.

Good afternoon,

Before this celebration begins, please join me in pausing for a moment to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.


Oh God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears, tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die a day from malnutrition, malaria and AIDS.


Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants; women, people of color; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy simplistic answers we prefer to hear from our politicians instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed any time soon and the understanding that our next president is a human being, not a messiah. Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the ways we care for the most vulnerable. And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of the president of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady calm captain. Give him stirring words, we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color blind reminding him of his own words that under his leadership there will be neither red nor blue states but a United States. Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods. And please God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents and we’re asking far too much of this one, we implore you oh good and great God to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand that he might do the work that we have called him to do. That he might find joy in this impossible calling and that, in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

Amen.

>Martin Luther King Jr: Pro Public Health and Anti-War

January 21, 2008

>Since 1900 the average life expectancy in the United States has increased 30 years. Of that, 25 years can be attributed to advances in public health, and the other five years to advances in medicine.

The differences might not be readily apparent, but in general, public health initiatives that contributed to extended life include things like food safety and better understanding of nutrition, decrease in tobacco use, improvements in workplace safety, family planning, maternal and child care, water safety and fluoridation, vaccination programs, seat belt use and sanitation.

Advances in medicine, while important from an individual standpoint, do not contribute that much statistically. These include things such as the development of new diagnostic equipment, advanced procedures and new drugs to treat illnesses.

Today we honor the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King understood the importance of public health and the role that it plays in the health of our nation. Consider the following:

“One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage is in the final analysis as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant. All labor has dignity.”

(Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson (Grand Central Publishing, 2001), pp. 352-35)

King was referring to the low wages the sanitation workers received and was fighting against the institutionalized poverty forced upon blacks by their own government. But he also made the point that in the control of disease, sanitation is a must. In the 19th century immigration and urbanization caused a population shift that led to overcrowding in cities with inadequate waste disposal systems. Often garbage was piled in the streets or thrown over a fence giving food and shelter to vermin and contributing to disease outbreaks.

By 1900 public health departments had been established in 40 of the 45 states. From the 1930’s through the 1950’s, great strides were made in solid waste disposal, as well as sewage and water treatment and hygiene practices. Vermin control, related to garbage control, also contributed to the reduction of disease.

I believe King would also be an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq. Here is what he said about the Vietnam War:

“And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

(Beyond Vietnam speech delivered April 4, 1967. The quote can be found in A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard (Warner Books, 2002), p. 142)

To the left of this column you can see the Cost of the war. $487 billion. Almost half a trillion. Consider the job training and education that could be provided with that money. Not to mention the cost in lives lost or damaged. One example is the number of men and women returning with traumatic brain injury, and an army task force suggests that 10 to 20 percent of those returning for Iran and Afghanistan have brain injuries. This story from September explains how the problem is insidious and how the effects can be long term.

So yes, the war in Iraq is a “demonic, destructive suction tube” destroying the lives of our young people who are fighting as well as hindering education of students not yet old enough to be sucked in.

There are so many ways in which this war is wrong, and Dr. King would be one of its most outspoken critics. Unlike the ever changing heated rhetoric that we hear on a daily basis (from presidential candidates), his words are set, his opposition is unchallengeable, and his positions unchangeable. And they apply today.

Some of the information I used here comes from Soulforce , an organization whose mission statement reads:

“The mission of Soulforce is to cut off homophobia at its source – religious bigotry…We apply the creative direct action principles taught by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to peacefully resist injustice and demand full equality for LGBT citizens and same-gender families.”

Information on sanitation and control of infectious diseases and public health can be found here.

Martin Luther King Jr: Pro Public Health and Anti-War

January 21, 2008

Since 1900 the average life expectancy in the United States has increased 30 years. Of that, 25 years can be attributed to advances in public health, and the other five years to advances in medicine.

The differences might not be readily apparent, but in general, public health initiatives that contributed to extended life include things like food safety and better understanding of nutrition, decrease in tobacco use, improvements in workplace safety, family planning, maternal and child care, water safety and fluoridation, vaccination programs, seat belt use and sanitation.

Advances in medicine, while important from an individual standpoint, do not contribute that much statistically. These include things such as the development of new diagnostic equipment, advanced procedures and new drugs to treat illnesses.

Today we honor the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King understood the importance of public health and the role that it plays in the health of our nation. Consider the following:

“One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage is in the final analysis as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant. All labor has dignity.”

(Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson (Grand Central Publishing, 2001), pp. 352-35)

King was referring to the low wages the sanitation workers received and was fighting against the institutionalized poverty forced upon blacks by their own government. But he also made the point that in the control of disease, sanitation is a must. In the 19th century immigration and urbanization caused a population shift that led to overcrowding in cities with inadequate waste disposal systems. Often garbage was piled in the streets or thrown over a fence giving food and shelter to vermin and contributing to disease outbreaks.

By 1900 public health departments had been established in 40 of the 45 states. From the 1930’s through the 1950’s, great strides were made in solid waste disposal, as well as sewage and water treatment and hygiene practices. Vermin control, related to garbage control, also contributed to the reduction of disease.

I believe King would also be an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq. Here is what he said about the Vietnam War:

“And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

(Beyond Vietnam speech delivered April 4, 1967. The quote can be found in A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard (Warner Books, 2002), p. 142)

To the left of this column you can see the Cost of the war. $487 billion. Almost half a trillion. Consider the job training and education that could be provided with that money. Not to mention the cost in lives lost or damaged. One example is the number of men and women returning with traumatic brain injury, and an army task force suggests that 10 to 20 percent of those returning for Iran and Afghanistan have brain injuries. This story from September explains how the problem is insidious and how the effects can be long term.

So yes, the war in Iraq is a “demonic, destructive suction tube” destroying the lives of our young people who are fighting as well as hindering education of students not yet old enough to be sucked in.

There are so many ways in which this war is wrong, and Dr. King would be one of its most outspoken critics. Unlike the ever changing heated rhetoric that we hear on a daily basis (from presidential candidates), his words are set, his opposition is unchallengeable, and his positions unchangeable. And they apply today.

Some of the information I used here comes from Soulforce , an organization whose mission statement reads:

“The mission of Soulforce is to cut off homophobia at its source – religious bigotry…We apply the creative direct action principles taught by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to peacefully resist injustice and demand full equality for LGBT citizens and same-gender families.”

Information on sanitation and control of infectious diseases and public health can be found here.

The Western Tribune

May 23, 2007

The Western Tribune this week contains my column regarding the resolution of inclusion recently passed by Birmingham’s City Council. To my knowledge, this is the first gay positive column or report pubished in a Bessemer newspaper in history. I know there are homophobic people in western Jefferson County, I ran across several while I was campaigning, but whether they read the Trib or not I don’t know. But just in case, it would be nice for the Tribune to hear from readers of this column (and the paper) who support diversity in our community. I am sure they will hear from those who don’t. Dan titled my column “One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer.” Mine may be the first vote, but I am sure it is not the only one. Let them know. The mailing address is The Western Tribune, 1530 Third Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020, and their email is thewesterntrib@bellsouth.net. For those who do not have the newspaper (you can subscribe at 425-7171) the column is repeated here:

One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer

A few weeks ago I was critical of the Birmingham City Council because they failed to pass a resolution of inclusion proposed by Councilperson Valerie Abbott. The resolution would promote tolerance and respect for all residents and visitors and condemn racism, bigotry, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, and would encourage the city of Birmingham to embrace diversity.

Birmingham’s history, like Bessemer’s, does not always shine when the issues of tolerance and inclusiveness are brought forth. The words of intolerance and division that filled the chamber just weeks ago are evidence of a past that lingers, one of mistrust and hatred.

A city that has been divided has no business promoting intolerance when wounds are still healing and fences are still being mended. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And Coretta Scott King echoed her husband’s feelings by saying “Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others” when she was speaking against discrimination against gays and lesbians in 1994.

On May 15 Birmingham righted this wrong by passing, unanimously, a modified version of the resolution for inclusion. The council members who had voted no the first time realized that voting to exclude people because of who they are presented a negative image for their city. One councilor who changed his vote, Steven Hoyt, said this was the right thing to do, after doing some research and having discussions with spiritual leaders. By voting now to reverse that decision, all residents and visitors can feel welcome and appreciated.

I wonder if the Bessemer City Council, if presented with a similar resolution, will behave like the Birmingham Council did in March with hateful speech and divisive votes, or will they show unity with a progressive vote for inclusion and tolerance. With the contributions that gays are making toward improving our city, I would hope for the latter. Bessemer is a diverse community and has been mentioned more than once by the Birmingham News as a community where gays are helping to revitalize the city by preserving their historical homes and contributing to efforts to bring cultural events and art shows. And history shows that revival of fading communities across the nation is often heavily influenced by the contributions of gays in those communities.

Resolution or not, let’s hope the leaders and followers in our community appreciate the efforts of everyone to improve our city.

*********************************************************************************

>The Western Tribune

May 23, 2007

>The Western Tribune this week contains my column regarding the resolution of inclusion recently passed by Birmingham’s City Council. To my knowledge, this is the first gay positive column or report pubished in a Bessemer newspaper in history. I know there are homophobic people in western Jefferson County, I ran across several while I was campaigning, but whether they read the Trib or not I don’t know. But just in case, it would be nice for the Tribune to hear from readers of this column (and the paper) who support diversity in our community. I am sure they will hear from those who don’t. Dan titled my column “One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer.” Mine may be the first vote, but I am sure it is not the only one. Let them know. The mailing address is The Western Tribune, 1530 Third Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020, and their email is thewesterntrib@bellsouth.net. For those who do not have the newspaper (you can subscribe at 425-7171) the column is repeated here:

One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer

A few weeks ago I was critical of the Birmingham City Council because they failed to pass a resolution of inclusion proposed by Councilperson Valerie Abbott. The resolution would promote tolerance and respect for all residents and visitors and condemn racism, bigotry, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, and would encourage the city of Birmingham to embrace diversity.

Birmingham’s history, like Bessemer’s, does not always shine when the issues of tolerance and inclusiveness are brought forth. The words of intolerance and division that filled the chamber just weeks ago are evidence of a past that lingers, one of mistrust and hatred.

A city that has been divided has no business promoting intolerance when wounds are still healing and fences are still being mended. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And Coretta Scott King echoed her husband’s feelings by saying “Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others” when she was speaking against discrimination against gays and lesbians in 1994.

On May 15 Birmingham righted this wrong by passing, unanimously, a modified version of the resolution for inclusion. The council members who had voted no the first time realized that voting to exclude people because of who they are presented a negative image for their city. One councilor who changed his vote, Steven Hoyt, said this was the right thing to do, after doing some research and having discussions with spiritual leaders. By voting now to reverse that decision, all residents and visitors can feel welcome and appreciated.

I wonder if the Bessemer City Council, if presented with a similar resolution, will behave like the Birmingham Council did in March with hateful speech and divisive votes, or will they show unity with a progressive vote for inclusion and tolerance. With the contributions that gays are making toward improving our city, I would hope for the latter. Bessemer is a diverse community and has been mentioned more than once by the Birmingham News as a community where gays are helping to revitalize the city by preserving their historical homes and contributing to efforts to bring cultural events and art shows. And history shows that revival of fading communities across the nation is often heavily influenced by the contributions of gays in those communities.

Resolution or not, let’s hope the leaders and followers in our community appreciate the efforts of everyone to improve our city.

*********************************************************************************

Martin Luther King Jr, and the Western Star

February 18, 2007

A letter in the Feb 14, 2007 issue of the Westen Star, titled M. L. King, No American Hero, does everything it can to degrade Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter claims that King was affiliated with over 60 communist organizations and that his “dream” was to convert the U.S. to a communist nation. The letter writer says that “King’s legacy is one of deceit, sexual immorality, dishonor, scandal, untruthfulness, cheating and disloyalty.” He goes on to predict that the real King will be exposed in 2027 when King’s files, tapes and documents are unsealed. The letter is signed “Travis Baldwin, Bessemer.”

Why would the Western star print this letter, that does nothing except to attempt to degrade an American hero? Yet it refuses to print the letter I submitted weeks ago that disagreed with their opinion on president Bush. I think it’s obvious…their “agenda” is showing. They just want it to be known that there are conservatives of their ilk out there, and they think its OK to stir up a controversy when the one in question is a respected African American, but not when it focuses on the paper or its editor.

>Martin Luther King Jr, and the Western Star

February 18, 2007

>A letter in the Feb 14, 2007 issue of the Westen Star, titled M. L. King, No American Hero, does everything it can to degrade Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter claims that King was affiliated with over 60 communist organizations and that his “dream” was to convert the U.S. to a communist nation. The letter writer says that “King’s legacy is one of deceit, sexual immorality, dishonor, scandal, untruthfulness, cheating and disloyalty.” He goes on to predict that the real King will be exposed in 2027 when King’s files, tapes and documents are unsealed. The letter is signed “Travis Baldwin, Bessemer.”

Why would the Western star print this letter, that does nothing except to attempt to degrade an American hero? Yet it refuses to print the letter I submitted weeks ago that disagreed with their opinion on president Bush. I think it’s obvious…their “agenda” is showing. They just want it to be known that there are conservatives of their ilk out there, and they think its OK to stir up a controversy when the one in question is a respected African American, but not when it focuses on the paper or its editor.