Today marks a day and a month of firsts. It is the first and only National Holiday established in the U.S. in honor of an African-American. It is the first time that we have ever inducted a woman and, in particular, a woman of color to be the Vice President of the United States, the second highest office in our country. It is also the first time that an African American and Jewish American will represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
While it appears as though we could easily tout this as great progress toward the kind of America Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of, it is overshadowed by another first. January 6, 2021 marks the first time since 1814 that the U.S. Capitol has been under siege and attacked, only this time it was not the British, it was our fellow Americans.
We do have much to celebrate today, however we cannot forget about how we all felt on January 6. We all witnessed, once again, the disparity in the enforcement of the law when people of color peacefully protest for social and racial justice versus what happens when others of a different persuasion show up under the guise of exercising their First Amendment rights, but instead with the conscious intention of bestowing death, destruction, and desecration on one of our Nation’s most sacred places.
I wonder what Dr. King would say if he were here today to witness this historic moment of insurrection, incited by the President of the United States?
His words from 50 years ago still ring true today. “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
While it may be hard to see love as the answer to overcome the events of the past year – the killings of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others to mention – and the impact on our lives from those who spew hate, racism, bigotry, etc., we can hope and faith. We can have faith that on the other side of these turbulent times there will be a new way of living, a new way of being, and a new America that we can all be proud of. An America where there is fairness, justice, and equality for all of us. An America where we will truly be judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin.
We at the California Black Health Network will always stand on the right side of social, racial, and environmental justice to protect the lives, health and well-being of African-Americans and Black Immigrants across California, as well as our brothers and sisters of color.
Let’s all continue to march forward in spirit of Health, Hope, and Humanity.
Happy MLK Day!