LIVING FOR CHANGE
Detroit community celebrates MLK Day
By Gloria Lowe
Michigan Citizen, Jan. 30- Feb. 5. 2011
Gloria Lowe is a long-time community activist on Detroit’s east side. She is a craftsperson who has learned over the years that by working with our hands we can heal ourselves, rehab our homes and rebuild our neighborhoods, – GLB
Saturday, January 15, 2011, I attended the second roundtable discussion conducted by the young people of Feedom Freedom Growers, the community garden created by Myrtle Thompson-Curtis and Wayne Curtis. a former Black Panther, on Manistique St. on the east side of Detroit.
The discussion took place at the Hope Community Church not far from the garden.
About 40 people of all ages, from youngsters to elders, participated. We were from all over Metro Detroit: east side. west side, downriver, southwest, Grosse Pointe.
The discussion centered around rebuilding our communities through re-creating the Beloved Community. How can we achieve this sense of community in the 21st Century? How do we correct racial injustice? What is non-violent civil disobedience? What would Dr. King say and why are his words important to us today?
I was really curious as to how the young people would discuss these questions and I was impressed by the intensity and depth of their discussion,
Karmen, a facilitator and social worker, pointed out the number of young people who are ªlostº because of family dynamics involving drugs, incarceration, abuse and mental health concerns. Young people are forced to make it on their own. The Village is no longer helping to raise the children. We need to recreate this vital mechanism, reaching out to love our children unconditionally, showing them that we are concerned for their well-being despite their circumstances. A hug, a smile, compassion in our words correcting unacceptable behavior, are needed.
A colleague suggested a day of atonement to the youth, declaring our unconditional love and our commitment to join in the quest for a more just world for all people.
One of the young people responded: “Just donºt stop loving us. When you see us doing wrong things, correct us lovingly. Donºt prejudge us by how we look. We need you and your wisdom to guide us.”
Facilitator Kezia Curtis asked if Dr. Kingºs Dream was possible today? Tyrone Thompson, a twenty-something veteran, directed us to the April 4,1967 speech by Dr. King on the Vietnam War at Riverside Church in New York “If you never read any other speech, please take the time to read this one.”
He challenged all of us, especially young people, to accept responsibility for right thoughtfulness, conscience, and right actions. To have faith and to seek guidance when we have questions. “We need to establish just values in terms of human lives and the consequences of taking a life.” He was profound in his wisdom and understanding of war and how it injures all of us.
A four year old told a joke and a seven year old rapped.
We concluded our discussion with the commitment to continue this kind of dialogue, asking more people to join with us. This kind of conversation is essential to the creation of change, which starts from within our selves.
It was possible because the Feedom Freedom community garden had already begun to create a community.
I left with only one thought. The Dream is being realized but God requires so much more of us in spirit because there is so much more to do.