Transforming Communities

Empowerment Congress Summit, 2019 with Bria Rushing of the African American Voter Registration Education and Participation Project

My last two weeks have been filled with inspiring activities centered around Dr. King’s legacy. His legacy of peace, non-violence, economic justice, civil rights, and more. As I ponder on his legacy and the last event of the King holiday weekend, I wonder how people will maintain King’s legacy throughout the year.

Today, as I galavanted in Leimert Park in Los Angeles someone asked me the question, What would King think of us celebrating right now? Would he be acceptable of us partying or would he be pushing us to civil rights action? The truth is, I do not know. I DO know California still has major issues that need addressing.

Issues that, due to systems of oppression, Black bodies overpopulate. In a study conducted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness there are over 150,000 individuals in the state of CA. African-Americans are seven times more likely to be homeless than individuals who identify as White or Latino, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To answer the woman’s question, consistent action is needed to solve the state’s issues however, there is a lot to celebrate.

At the 27th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit in Willowbrook, CA this weekend, Representative Barragan of the 44th district reminded us about the power of grassroots participation. She shared her commitment to organizers and encouraged them to create lasting transformation. Congresswoman Karen Bass of the 37th district empowered guests about the importance of transforming communities “for ourselves, our kids, and our planet.” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas reminded us about the importance of investing in communities to maintain their strength, vitality, and legacy.

The most important message from King that rings loud in my ear is, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” I take that to mean that we have to stay civically engaged. We must continue to operate in spaces where we are solving the state’s most pressing issues. How? Follow the doers. Join committees and organizations that are taking action. Track local issues. Visit the offices of your local representatives. Stay consistent in advocating for an issue that is of importance to you.

Whatever you do, keep moving toward justice.