Bay Area Legal Aid’s offices and phone lines will close Monday, January 16, 2023, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As a reminder of what Dr. King’s work continues to demand of all who struggle for justice, we share this message from BayLegal’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, Mynesha Whyte:
On the 3rd Monday of January, we observe a holiday in honor, remembrance, and celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a coordinator of change. Let’s remember Dr. King past the “I Have a Dream” speech and his hopes for integration. Let’s remember Dr. King for his radical ideas and critical analyses that made him a threat to white supremacy.
Let’s remember the times he was critical of the laws that govern this stolen land:
“One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all…An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow, and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
Let’s remember the times Dr. King was critical of government actions:
“A time comes when silence is betrayal.” And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam…I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” – Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence. 1967
Let’s remember the time Dr. King was critical of “obnoxious peace”:
“If peace means this, I don’t want peace: 1. If peace means accepting second class citizenship I don’t want it. 2. If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it. 3. If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace. 4. If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated, and segregated, I don’t want peace. In a passive non-violent manner we must revolt against this peace.” –When Peace Becomes Obnoxious, 1956
Let’s do more than dream like Dr. King, let’s act like Dr. King as well:
“Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on. And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.” Beyond Vietnam
Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!