Vision of equality is crucial every day
Stephy Nobles Beans combined song and words to invite several thousand people gathered Jan. 20 at the Spokane Convention Center for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Rally and March to “keep your eyes on the prize”—the prize being the gift to dream and keep dreaming the vision that everyone will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
“Freedom’s name is mighty sweet, and soon we’re gonna meet,” she sang. “Only chain a man can stand is that chain of hand in hand.”
She clarified that the national holiday is for “the Rev. Dr. King, a man of God, a husband, father, friend, comrade and dreamer.”
Stephy, who is associate chaplain for diversity, equity and inclusion ministry at Whitworth University, said, “his name is historical. Many recognize it. Some remember bits and pieces of facts. Some have forgotten. Some say the dreamer’s vision has been lulled to sleep and only awakened during the holiday.”
Speaking recently on King to several thousand students, she was touched that they want to make a difference. She thought of the legacy she wants to leave her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She wants them to know the sacrifices their ancestors and others made when they became allies of King, who left a legacy to his children, grandchildren, their children and the world.
“He kept his eyes on the prize, the gift that everyone is created equal,” she said, wondering how he would feel with there still being injustice.
Stephy wants young people to know it’s not just about a holiday to march hand-in-hand today, but for “our community to march every day in our hearts, workplaces, schools, health care and housing—to keep marching every day” to challenge injustices in the community and country.
It’s not for tomorrow, Stephy said, but as King said, “The time is always right to do what is right”—today, tomorrow and in the future.
“We need to tell young people to strive every day to uncover hidden prejudices that shape what we see, think and do,” she said. “The dream is bigger than King. He didn’t do it in a day, but every day strived to make a difference, risking his life for a better life for his children and others.
“Some say we have not lived up to the vision of a land where each person is judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin,” she said. “We need to tell young people to have courageous conversations about discrimination, racism and inequality.
“As the next generation, they will carry the mantle. If we don’t teach them about the past, it will repeat itself. We need to use the past to inform young people how they talk about the present and the future,” Stephy continued. “We need to show the next generation of leaders what it means to be a ‘Beloved Community,’ not just marching hand-in-hand today, but when the day is over. We need to show them we will take action against racial injustice, not just today, but the next day and the next day and the next.
“Will we make it more than just one day on? Make every day a day to make a difference in our community. We need to do something different today, tomorrow and in the future for the betterment of humankind. We need to involve young people in our community and show them there is love and kindness today, tomorrow and in the future.”
Stephy quoted King: “Tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now and if we are waiting, the right time is NOW.”
She closed saying, “That’s why we need to keep our eyes on the prize.”
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, February, 2020