Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! As one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood that he could not create change alone, calling on the individuals who believed in equity to speak up. And just as people joined his movement for basic human rights then, today we are seeing the same across our nation as individuals challenge decades-old oppressive systems and ideas. Silence is not an option. We must all be a part of creating a more just world.
Creating this just world will take work and commitment, sustained effort and action, and every one of us doing our part. We know change is happening, as seen through historic election wins across the country — that of Reverend Raphael Warnock — the first Black person elected to the Georgia Senate and Kamala Harris who will be sworn in as the first female, first Black, and first Indian-American Vice President. But electoral wins are only part of the journey on the road to justice and equality, we know real change requires sustainable action and consistent movement.
Warnock, Harris, and President-Elect Joe Biden didn’t win on their own — hard work on the ground by voting rights groups, the movement for Black lives, and countless grassroots organizers helped get people to the polls and vote in favor of stronger democracy. Individuals, whose names we don’t know, standing up on behalf of their communities, and refusing anything less than a nation that lives up to its promise are critical in building a future rooted in fairness and equity.
These wins are only possible when we all do our part. When we show up, we have the power. Now more than ever, Dr. King’s words ring true that “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
In Harris County, we have been working together to ensure our neighbors do not lose everything as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic while also creating criminal justice reform following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. In addition to staying safe during a pandemic, people are also forced to challenge oppressive systems that also threaten lives. It is an unfair position, yet we know change will only come if it’s demanded, so we march on.
Economic equity remains a priority just as it was for Dr. King before he was killed. He reminded America that pulling one’s self up by his or her bootstraps is only possible when one has booted. During this economic and health crisis, we have seen those without boots suffer the most because of disparities that existed long before 2020.
The healthcare and economic disparities brought to the forefront by the pandemic are ones Black and Brown communities have experienced for decades, and we cannot ignore that truth any longer. The most vulnerable among us deserve to have basic rights and live with dignity. Although Jim Crow laws are long gone, the oppression and lack of equity at the root of them remain within all of the systems that govern our nation. Just as Dr. King fought, we continue to fight for justice and fair opportunity for all.
As we see positive change, we also know there is much concern about the systems and individuals determined to have things remain the same. What we saw on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol was unacceptable as right-wing extremists violently stormed the federal building, threatening elected officials and the ideals we believe in. While we demand accountability, let us cling to the higher truth that there are millions of people who reject these actions and are also fighting for fairness and change.
The spirit of Dr. King’s dream lives on through the millions of Americans working to see the dream become reality. Precinct One asks that you continue to join us in the fight for justice and fair opportunity for all. Dr. King’s legacy lives on through each of us, and we will continue to honor him as we challenge our nation to live up to the promises guaranteed to all people.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.