A Single Garment of Destiny

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… I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.    

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
16 April 1963

Today, 15 January 2018, we reflect back on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was fifty-five years ago when he wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” an impassioned request to end racial injustice and hatred through non-violent means. The Letter outlines the steps, suggests using “direct action” to create tension, as a means to dramatize an issue, and expresses disappointment in the “white moderates” who prefer “a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice. …”

There are other reasons 1963 was a significant year. In August, a few months after writing from a Birmingham jail Dr. King delivered his “I have a dream” speech to over half a million people on the mall in Washington, DC. The Beatles, the long-haired foursome from Britain that had swept the world off its musical feet, were at the top of the charts, and in June President John F. Kennedy delivered his “I am a Berliner” speech at the Brandenburg Gate. He was assassinated in November, a few months later.

Transformation was occurring and integrated into the change was a sense of hope. A recognition that technology, even then, was connecting us in a way that hadn’t been possible in the past. Our young President and his elegant wife Jacqueline, were bringing a sense of youth and vitality to the White House and it was being felt across the country.

Contrast that with today. Our country is consumed with racial tension and social injustice, fueled in part by the White House. The American dream, as expressed by Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” seems to be in tatters. There isn’t “a single garment of destiny.”

It doesn’t need to be this way. Working together, we can, in the words of Dr. King, “use tension” to bring about a positive peace that is non-violent and engages all of our communities.

WOVEN is building a global network to end violence and injustice. We are striving to create tension, through urban print art, and grassroots organizing, to unite issues of violence with problem solvers. Those individuals, communities, and nations who choose peaceful resolutions, and refuse to accept violence as a norm. WOVEN is a neutral, common ground to collaboratively organize and engineer effective solutions to violence. We believe that, provided the resources, support and appropriate platform, we can end violence and bring communities together.

 …Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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