Let’s honor Dr. King with our actions

January 17, 2022

Today we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who was born January 15, 1929 at his family home in Atlanta. 

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where he was helping lead workers as they protested low wages and intolerable conditions. 

The dehumanizing discrimination and segregation that King devoted his life to fighting, and ultimately was killed in pursuit of, encourages self-reflection for all of us on this holiday.

Dr. King was not only the emblematic African American leader in the segregated south, he also laid the foundation for so many of our nation’s civil rights struggles, including those of women, the LGBTQ community, our BIPOC (an inclusive term for “Black, Indigenous, People of Color”) citizens, and the disability community.

Contemplating Dr. King’s legacy inspires us to look inward. What are we doing for others? Are we deciding to act to better the lives of those in need and to fight for justice, and against injustice? 

Two years ago in Encinitas, we said “yes” to a Safe Parking program for people who no longer have a home but still have a working car – to connect them with social workers who come to them in a protected overnight parking area. It’s been a resounding success: helping people (mainly seniors) and harming no one. It has enabled residents to get back on their feet.

The program elicited strong feelings, both positive and negative. It took courage and perseverance for those of us involved to get it done, but as Dr. King wisely said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Much needs to be done to truly alleviate the complex homelessness crisis, but all journeys involve many small steps. We need to continue to create opportunities for people to thrive, and not turn our backs on our neighbors.

Encinitas is a high opportunity, high quality-of-life city and it’s important that we are intentionally inclusive. I believe that the greatest struggles we face in this city rest on larger questions about inclusion versus exclusion.

A stirring visit to Dr. King’s home

It was inspirational to visit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home last summer when we were in Atlanta to visit family members. The historic preservation of Dr. King’s home and the neighborhood that surrounds it impressed me. Like many buildings that eventually become landmarks, these structures had fallen into disrepair before the community and civic leaders reinvested in them. And now, over 90 years later, new generations are able to visit and reflect on their significance. 

There are so many motivational words from Dr. King, and two quotes speak to me today: 

•  “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

•  “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.”  

As the words and deeds of Dr. King inspire us, we can reflect on how we can embody his wisdom, compassion and leadership in our own community.

In service,

P.S. A list of San Diego County events happening today can be found here, and in Orange County there’s a whole schedule of activities at Irvine’s Pretend City Children’s Museum.

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