Fifty-six years ago, civil and human rights icon Malcolm X was assassinated. To this day, some like to push the false narrative that all he was about was hate and racism but what he was is a man molded by the inequalities of the times in which he grew up in. He preached the importance of Black empowerment, which even to this day is threatening to some. What many who push this false narrative about him neglect to point is that he was not only a man of courage and conviction but a man who was unafraid to allow his personality to evolve as he was exposed to new things, and after a visit to Mecca he stated that seeing Muslims of “all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans,” interacting as equals led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome.
Let us not be lulled into apathy; dark clouds gather all around us. There are those who wish to keep us apart based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and economic status. Lives are being lost to senseless violence. Children are going to sleep in hunger and with no place to call home. Families are mired in poverty. Now more than ever is the time for the coalition of the righteous to stand up and say in one voice ENOUGH. Time to come together as a people because we are all one people, and we all share one planet. Time to understand that our future survival is predicated on our respect and compassion for each other. Time to put aside our difference. Time to bury our hate. Time to reject those who refuse to practice Love, Brotherhood, Unity, and Equality before it is too late, and we are trapped in a storm for which there is no escape.
During this joyous season, let us band together as one and reflect on what is happening around us.
It appears that the world is at a turning point. The wicked and self-centered have always walked among us, but they no longer feel the need to walk in the shadows; instead, today, they move brazenly for all to see. They prey on the weaknesses within us, clouding our minds with negativity as they claim to speak the word of the righteous, filling our hearts with a lack of empathy toward our brothers and sisters and Drawing upon the hate that resides in each of us. They use us as pawns to move around the chessboard, enhancing their power, wealth, and ego, and when they deem it necessary, gladly sacrifice us.
It is at this moment more than ever that we as a people must rely on our faith, whatever that may be, to resist the words and actions of those who walk in darkness and band together as a people to overcome them with positivity and love for each other. Failure to do so will undoubtedly lead to our demise.
Twenty years ago, I emerged from the IRT #2 subway line at Fulton Street to what could only be described as a perfect day, blue skies, not a cloud to be seen except it wasn’t a perfect day; it was a day of unbelievable horror. I remember standing on Fulton Street, staring at the towers only a few blocks away, smoldering. I remember running when the first tower collapsed and a dust cloud came roaring down Fulton Street. I remember standing on the FDR Drive only a short time later watching the second tower collapse and with tears in my eyes, turning to a colleague who also had tears in their eyes and muttering the words, my God, how many people do you think were in that building. Evil and hatred took so many from us that day, but for those of us who lived through the horror of that day, we also remember how we all came together for each other. Black or white, male or female, it didn’t matter; religious or sexual orientation was irrelevant. It was the best of humanity showing itself in the face of those who knew only hatred. It was as if we were saying; even if we didn’t realize it, hate could not define us. We are all in this together. We are all one people. Today on the 20th anniversary of that horrible day, let us remember how we bonded together, how for one moment we understood we are all human. Let us hope one day that moment can be every moment.
It’s March Madness, so I figured I would go to youtube and relive some of the great one shining moment videos from years past, and you know what stands out the most? It was watching young adults, black and white celebrating together or consoling each other, even opposing team players. At that movement of jubilation or sadness, they didn’t see or look for color. It didn’t matter because they were all in it together.
What a concept!
If only the world could act like that, I think to myself, what a wonderful world it would be. Oh yeah,
We are living in turbulent times gripped by a worldwide pandemic, dealing with racial injustice, unemployment levels not seen since the depression, burgeoning homelessness, food scarcity and the lack of adequate healthcare for not only our most vulnerable but more and more the so called middle class. Through it all we are trying to navigate these tough times with a leadership that is bereft of empathy and looks to divide rather than unite.
Yet despite these troubling times the last week has brought something remarkable. We are seeing a significant portion of Americans coming together, refusing to allow themselves to be torn apart by the devise minority that sadly refuses to let go of the hate in their heart. Those that seem to exist on hate. I call this The Coalition of the Righteous and it is growing more powerful everyday. As a people we appear to finally listening to each other . To be willing to put aside our differences and to take the first steps as a society to understand each other.
For myself personally I have been experienced racism and seen the ugly side of policing but I have also been fortunate to say I have friends of all colors, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations.
I grew up attending a grammar school 95% Italian in the little Italy section of the Bronx, during a time when tolerance was not the word of the day. Yet I made life long friends I met there. We do not look like each other, we do not share the same culture but we do share a bond of brotherhood. We have always been our own Coalition of the Righteous and each of us is keenly aware that above all we can count on each other and we are not afraid to say we love each other. In my darkest days, when my heart literally stopped beating, when my recovery was long and hard they were right there. I did not have to ask them to be, I did not have to wonder if they would be, they were my family so I knew they would be.
We don’t look alike
We don’t share the same culture
We are brothers
The Coalition of the Righteous – it’s a beautiful thing.
Just seven of the four thousand one hundred and seventy-one words in Martin Luther King’s Jr. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. That speech would be the last one he ever delivered as he was assassinated the very next day at the young age of 39. There are so many speeches and quotes uttered by Dr. King that have personally motivated and inspired me to be a better person. But those seven words, above all others, have always had a special meaning to me.
Dr.King delivered those words in a speech to support a strike by 1,300 sanitation workers, mostly African-American men, who were protesting the horrendous working conditions, poverty-level wages, and the city’s refusal to recognize their union, sadly issues that are still prevalent today. With those seven words, Dr. King told the world he was aware his own life might very well be cut short because of his crusade to force America to abide by the words on which it was founded. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. But he was not afraid to die. Not because he embraced death, not because he wanted to die. Because, as he said in his own words, our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter. So on that night, he refused to keep silent; he told everyone in Memphis, Tennessee that night that now was not the time to turn back out of fear. Now was the time to press on down the path of righteousness even if that path was fraught with inherent dangers. That they could not sit quietly in fear and accept the injustices they were being subjected to, it would be unconscionable to do so. Today we celebrate his birthday, and I ponder what humanity could accomplish, what heights we could reach, where we may already be if each of us had even a fraction of the resolve and courage that Dr.King had to do what was right despite what it may cost us personally. I may not get there with you – just seven words but seven words that still resonate loudly today.