Update, Thursday, January 20, 2022
January 19, 2022
This past Tuesday evening the LABC Church Council engaged in a very honest and heartfelt conversation about our congregation’s COVID-19 protocols. It was recommended that we conduct a survey in advance of our Annual Meeting. (This year’s meeting will be on Sunday, January 30th at 12:30 via Zoom only.) The link to the survey is below. Thanks to Pastor Carolyn for preparing the survey.
Completing the survey by Friday, January 28th will be greatly appreciated.
Kay Washington, daughter of Sondra Price and niece of Declan and Sheila Brown, emailed the following MLK reflection which she wrote for the school at which she teaches. I am happy to share it with you.
In August 2003, my aunt Sheila Brown (known to me as Dearie) was asked to reflect on her experience at the March on Washington in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of this critical moment in our history. “Marches and demonstrations had become so commonplace that I did not, at first, realize the enormity of the one planned for Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. I had completed my junior year in high school and would be a senior in September. I was 17 years old,” my Auntie recalled.
I was raised in Oakland by black women who were directly involved with civil rights and activism. This illustrious past began with my grandmother, who started and ran an African American book store in Rochester, NY to provide the black community with access to books with examples and mirrors of themselves that they had never seen before. She gave children the opportunity to realize “that could be me” as they looked in a book and finally saw themselves.
My grandmother passed on her activism to my mother who marched on Selma knowing that her voice needed to be heard. She saw injustices, specifically in Alabama against black people, and she felt and knew she needed to go to Selma to march. “I could not just sit in Rochester without doing something,” she told me recently. My mom said she did not know what the word solidarity meant at 20 years old, but she was compelled to go and do something as an active participant in change for all people of color.
For me MLK. Jr day is not only a time to remember such necessary and relevant words from such a compassionate leader – which we still need to hear today. It is also a day for me to reflect on my family’s involvement in this movement knowing that there still remains a struggle for change to rights and inequalities black people experience today.
My Aunt Sheila’s words of her experience that day on August 28, 1963 bring me hope, courage, and the strength to continue to be involved with civil rights and activism. She continues to inspire me with her strength.
Here is more of what happened and how she felt that day.
When we arrived, the weather was hot and sticky but with little sun. The crowd was enormous, but the sounds and movements were absorbed by the damp still heat. People were wading barefoot in the long narrow pool and some in our group were climbing the small trees to get a better look at the distant steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I remember the distinct crackling sound of the loudspeaker as voice after voice delivered hopeful messages to the crowd. I hate to admit it, but I do not remember if I actually heard the entire I Have a Dream Speech that day or have confused it with the replays.
Every time I see the grainy black and white footage of the march I scan the crowd for my face, and although I have never seen my likeness, I certainly feel my presence. Every time I hear Martin Luther King Jr’s melodious, plaintive voice share his dream, my heart beat quickens as it floods with memories of that day.
Looking back, I realize that the march was a pivotal time in my life from which other events took shape. I am thankful that my mother never hesitated for a second when I wanted to go. She was a committed activist for human rights and will always be my hero.
I have told very few that I attended the march. I did not want to brag that I had attended an event that actually belonged to everybody, whether they had been there or not. But thanks to LABC, the MLK Jr Freedom Center and to my husband’s urging, I am now 40 years later, ready to shout it from the rooftops, I was there. I was there!
I know that my heartbeat quickens when I read these words from my aunt and it encourages me and inspires me to do better for the people around me. It reminds me that building community is an active process where individuals come together to make an impact, care for each other, and make change.
My hope is that you will go into this weekend inspired by my Aunt Sheila’s words knowing that Martin Luther King Jr Day is not just a day off from school and work. It is a call for us all to honor the past and reflect on how we can do better. It is a reminder that we are called to action every day to notice injustices and take a stand.
Tonight on LABC Zoom – Together In Spirit 6:00