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Originally published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The Year of Resistence

Brothers and sisters, in 1968, I asked the question “Where do we go from here?” While reflecting upon the state of this nation in 2015, this same nation that I and so many others gave their lives to transform, I find myself disheartened and filled with great concern. Today I have decided to break my long winter of silence to ask “Will we live together in peace and justice, or will we perish together as fools?”

There is great injustice across our land. From the militarized walls of our border to police shootings of our precious young men of African descent, there is injustice across our land. From the corporate takeover of the halls of justice to the great poverty in this land of unimaginable wealth, there is injustice across our land.

It is time for us to ask the daunting but critical question: who are we as a people? Are we forever destined to live as two Americas: one white, unduly privileged and holding the majority of wealth in this nation, and one Black, poor, oppressed and seven times more likely to be imprisoned? Our divided America, born of violence, has allowed this evil to become acceptable. Despite what we are told, we know that it is never acceptable to allow the schools of white youth to flourish while the schools of Black youth languish in disrepair and neglect; to allow our white youth to be channeled into universities and Black youth into multi-million dollar prisons; to allow white youth opportunity, while stripping away economic opportunity for Black youth.

We know this, yet hollow words will not change the status quo. We must cast off our narrow-mindedness and allow hope to take hold of us: a hope that will not be satisfied by the excuses of the past, but a hope that will move us to liberation and freedom.

There was a time in our nation when we could blindly ignore the duality of experience alongside of our fellow humans, but that time has passed. Death is at the door. Scripture says that “The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God, what shall be of them that disobey the gospel of God.” The time has come. We as a people cannot afford to wait. We cannot afford to wait for weak words or small reforms to create change when people are dying. For the sake of our nation that I love so deeply, I implore each of you, white or black, yellow or red, rich or poor, gay or straight, to become extremist in the pursuit of justice and love. We still have a choice today, and I call on you to choose the way of transformation.

I call on people of conscience to demand:

  • A government-guaranteed living wage income for all
  • Free, high-quality education, universal health care, and affordable housing
  • A plan to end the racialized mass incarceration of Black, Latino, and poor communities
  • A plan to end the war against the rest of the world in the name of America and move from an economy based on militarism to an economy of peace

We must be willing to sacrifice, to go to jail and maybe even to die to save the soul of our country.  The soul of our country can only be changed through total transformation. These demands will bring us closer to the Beloved Community that God calls upon us to be.

If I offend anyone in this letter with my urgency, I beg you to forgive me. However, if I did not write with the fierce urgency of this moment, I’d have to beg for God’s forgiveness. In 2015, we can no longer afford to silent in the face of injustice and oppression. Silence is betrayal; it is a betrayal of all of us--our brothers, our sisters and God.