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Open letter: Americans, be encouraged by example of MLK

We, the undersigned residents of Bermuda, take this opportunity on the birthday of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr to express our concerns and best wishes to our neighbours, the people of the United States of America, as that country navigates a most challenging crossroad.

On the one hand, we do this in response to the January 6 storming of the Capitol, during which five people died in tragic and unprecedented circumstances

In addition, we join with people across the globe in sharing grave concern that those claiming responsibility for the January 6 tragedy, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are promoting even more violent attacks over the next week, which are planned to include all state capitols.

This timing is fortuitous. MLK, a global icon lived a life engaging critical crossroads. He was drafted to become the voice of the Montgomery Bus Boycott — in December 1955 — a most transformative movement in the 20th century. Notwithstanding that movement’s demonstrated commitment to peaceful protest, on January 30, 1956, only weeks into that yearlong campaign, Dr King’s home was dynamited — thankfully his wife and baby were uninjured.

Let freedom ring: the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr gestures to his congregation in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 30, 1967 (Photograph courtesy the Associated Press)

Of course, that was only one of numerous terror incidents against that peaceful movement, which was actively lobbying for simple, basic rights. However, Dr King and all those activists maintained their nonviolent approach and, over years, they successfully shifted the trajectory of this most powerful nation, which has benefited all involved.

Martin Luther King Jr went beyond addressing only civil rights, ignoring the pleas of colleagues in an historic speech at Riverside Baptist Church on April 4, 1967 — exactly one year before his assassination. MLK identified that his country and the world were at a key crossroad at that time. The champion of nonviolence not only called for an end to the War in Vietnam, but addressed the “Big Picture”.

The “Drum Major for Peace” made a case for a “revolution of values”. He called for a focus on people rather than profits, making a case for fundamental transformation. Dr King’s call for change cited the reality that US military spending consumed the majority of the billions of tax dollars, leaving paltry amounts for services for the people, such as education, healthcare, etc. The 2020 US Budget reflects that same disparity, reinforcing the notion that might makes right — a concept arguably embraced by those caught up in the January 6 mindset.

At this 2021 crossroad, we encourage the American people to use mindful and peaceful consideration in charting their way forward, as this will undoubtedly have implications for all of us who share the planet.

This opinion was penned on behalf of the following signatories although not the organisations with which they are associated: the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Anglican Bishop of Bermuda; the Reverend Larry Dixon, presiding elder of the AME Church; Glenn Fubler; Carol Patricia Marsh-Lockett, PhD; Lynn Millett; Michelle Khaldun; the Right Reverend Wes Spiewak, Catholic Bishop of the Hamilton Diocese; Kristin White; Lynne Winfield; Imam Saleem Talbot

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Published January 15, 2021 at 9:28 am (Updated January 15, 2021 at 9:28 am)

Open letter: Americans, be encouraged by example of MLK

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