June 2, 2020 - "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Dear RVSD Community,
On April 16, 1963 and from his jail cell in Birmingham Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote a letter (see attached) to fellow members of the clergy. In his letter, Dr. King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He was right. And yet here we are, a little over fifty-seven years later, still bearing witness to unrelenting injustices, racial inequalities and the disparate treatment of others (up to and including murder) just because they are Black. If Dr. King was alive today he would be 91 years old. I imagine he would take in all that is going on in our country right now and sadly conclude that not much has changed since his time in the Birmingham city jail.
Attached is a letter to our community from Marin County Superintendent Mary Jane Burke. Of the most recent tragic events in Minnesota and Georgia she writes, “This is a call to action to educate friends, neighbors, colleagues and children, to voice our outrage regarding injustice, and to demand respect for every human being regardless of race, ethnicity, and economic status.” In reading Mary Jane’s words and those of others who have spoken out, as an educator, parent and grandparent I instinctively focus on the mention of children … and I wonder. I wonder if we can go beyond educating, to empowering all children to become the generation that makes right, what all the generations before them did not. Perhaps we begin by talking to our children and educating them. But we must also inspire and engage them by setting real-life examples for them to follow, remember and build upon. This is something we can all do.
A couple of years ago I read a book by Richard Rothstein, titled, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of how Our Government Segregated America.” The history this book recalls hits close to home, with detailed accounts of how right here in Marin County, the persistent, conscious and willful mistreatment of Black people contributed to injustices large and small, that continue everywhere in our country to this day. The history cannot be changed, but the future can.
In closing his letter, Dr. King wrote, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation will all their scintillating beauty.” What will we, each of us, do to recognize, interrupt and repair the inequities and injustices we see happening right here in our own community? What will we, each of us, do to equip our children and grandchildren with the knowledge, understanding, commitment, courage and grace to ensure the “not too distant tomorrow” isn’t another fifty-seven years away?