“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963
Nearly 1,500 people from Community Renewal Society’s congregations and neighborhood organizations filled Liberty Baptist Church on Chicago’s south side for the Faith in Action Assembly on Martin Luther King Day. Over 80 parishioners of our church Old St. Pat’s attended. Liberty Baptist Church was often used as Dr. King’s headquarters in Chicago. He had been scheduled to preach there a couple of Sundays after April 4, 1968.
Community leaders asked pointed questions of Chicago mayoral candidates and more than 20 city, county and state elected officials. If an elected official was not present to answer “Yes” to the demands for just laws, the collective congregations prayed for them: “May God transform your heart and bend your mind toward justice.”
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle committed to working with the Reclaim Campaign to increase funding for violence prevention and reduce the detention of low-level offenders in the Cook County Jail. I wrote about this campaign in an earlier blog.
In December, the county passed a budget that included a new fund of $500,000 for community-based Restorative Justice programs, including Peace Hubs, in response to the advocacy of the Reclaim Campaign. President Preckwinkle endorsed the goal to reduce Cook County Jail to 7500 detainees by the end of 2015 by releasing non-violent offenders.
West side elected officials affirmed support for the Westside Community Benefits Coalition’s call for a signed Community Benefits Agreement with the Gateway
Development Partners to ensure local residents benefit from the jobs and housing created by the $300 million Gateway development in the Illinois Medical District expected to bring 1,000 permanent jobs to the community.
State legislators promised to support bills that will reduce bars to employment for people with criminal records in schools, park districts, transit, and health care systems. Legislators committed to supporting comprehensive education funding reform including a fair weighted formula, increased base level of at least $7,000, and revenue measures designated for education to fully fund the new formula.
Honoring Dr. King, the Faith in Action Assembly demanded that local officials change unjust systems, create good jobs and enact meaningful reforms to end police brutality.
Nationally, we all need to pray that the 114th Congress transforms their hearts and bend their minds to consider just laws and recognize that income inequality is segregation.
“To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality…. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands…. Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends
Sins that go against our skin become blessings
The movement is a rhythm to us
Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtaposition in us
Justice for all just ain’t specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin’ us
True and living living in us, resistance is us
That’s why Rosa sat on the bus
That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, “Stay down” and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up