This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you’ll likely be reminded of the familiar quotes about optimism and hope in dark times. Certainly, change can NOT happen without faith in a brighter tomorrow, but today we remind ourselves that Dr. King had more than a dream and a collection of platitudes. He carried with him a heavy truth: that love would not be enough to bring about justice. Dr. King knew that change could only be attained through great personal sacrifice and unwavering commitment to our values: “For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.” -“I’ve Been To The Mountain Top,” April 3, 1968
Tomorrow we will mark one month of fighting a scorched-earth battle in the war against an unjust wall. One month where our National Parks are being torn apart by reckless actors and one month without income for federal employees to feed their families and pay their bills. This pain is tremendous, but we know we cannot spend a dollar making concessions for a cruel President.
Dr. King spoke those words one April afternoon in Memphis in 1968, A day before he stepped outside of the Lorraine Motel for the last time. It was his third appearance in Memphis supporting the Sanitation Workers Strike. They, too, were fighting against a greater injustice: to work in safety and to receive a fair wage. Our LAUSD teachers are practicing the same civil disobedience right here in Los Angeles that the Memphis Sanitation Workers were striking for in 1968.
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us remember that no change comes without sacrifice, let us take solace in the justice of our cause, and let us be heartened by his view from the mountaintop. We must keep climbing until we see what he did: the Promised Land, the victory at the end of this fight.