Palo Alto Weekly
Cover Story - August 23, 2013
Palo Alto to celebrate 50th anniversary of March on Washington
Aug. 26 event to feature civil rights speakers, music, film, tributes to original marchers
Fifty years ago this month, Martin Luther King Jr. called upon Americans to "let freedom ring ... from every village and every hamlet, every state and every city." Palo Alto will celebrate King's Dream and the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with an evening event on Aug. 26 to emphasize the link between Silicon Valley and the King legacy.
The event will feature labor leader and civil-rights activist Dolores Huerta; Clayborne Carson, executive director of StanfordUniversity's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute; and a multimedia commemoration with jazz vocalist Kim Nalley, actor Aldo Billingslea performing as King, musicians Marcus Shelby and Tammy Hall and a special tribute to 1963 March participants Clarence Jones, John Lewis and Joan Baez.
A showing of the celebrated film "Soundtrack for a Revolution" will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. with the music and tributes to follow.
Palo Alto's event is expected to be the second largest commemoration of the March and the "I Have a Dream" speech in the country after the 2013 March on Washington celebration in Washington, D.C., Carson said. The event is sponsored by the City of Palo Alto, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute and developer Jim Baer.
The free event is open to the public.
"Join us in honoring our past. Together we will move forward with commitment to a nonviolent future," Baer said.
Palo Alto and Stanford have strong ties to supporting King's legacy. He spoke on the Stanford campus on at least two occasions, and in 1985 his widow, Coretta Scott King, selected Carson to edit and publish all of her late husband's writings, speeches, sermons and correspondence. Stanford's King Research and Education Institute, which Carson founded, is a center for research about King and the movements he inspired.
In 2007, Palo Alto's City Hall Plaza was renamed King Plaza in honor of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King.
"The City of Palo Alto has a long history of community engagement on the issues that Dr. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to, namely peace, freedom and equality for all. The words of his 'I Have a Dream' speech still ring true today, and we honor his legacy with the recognition of the historic contributions he made to this country," Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff said.
Organizers hope the event will inspire action to achieve King's vision of an equitable society for people of color and all people, they said.
"Silicon Valley, the site of history's greatest revolution in communications technology, can and should play a major role in disseminating the visionary ideas associated with King, the most prominent leader of one of history's greatest freedom struggles. This collaboration between the King Institute and the City of Palo Alto can and should serve as a stimulus for long-term collaborations involving local residents and leading Silicon Valley institutions to "let freedom ring" throughout the world," Carson said.
What: Let Freedom Ring! A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Who: Dolores Huerta, Clayborne Carson, Kim Nalley, Aldo Billingslea, Marcus Shelby, Tammy Hall and special tributes to March participants Clarence Jones, John Lewis and Joan Baez
Where: King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto
When: Monday, Aug. 26, 5 to 9 p.m. Film showing of "Soundtrack for a Revolution" from 5 to 7 p.m.; music and oratory performances from 7 to 9 p.m.
— Sue Dremann
Posted by Dr. King would not say nice things about Palo Alto,
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm
Palo Alto To Celebrate 50th Anniversary of March on Washington . . .
. . . By Criminalizing Homelessness, Holding a Referendum to Block Affordable Housing for Seniors, and Ignoring Bullying of Disabled Children in Our Schools.
If Dr. King was alive today, do you think he would be happy that his "legacy" was being celebrated by the kind of people who would do these things? The real Martin Luther King, not the sanitized holiday version, would have nothing but condemnation for the "good people of Palo Alto" who espouse tolerance but practice bigotry against the poor, sick, and defenseless.
Greg Scharf talking about Dr. King's legacy while voting to close public property to the poor is absolutely sickening. I am surprised Scharf can even say such a sentence without being struck by lighting.
Here's what Dr. King had to say about poverty and inequality. Enjoy your party. If Dr. King was alive he wouldn't come to your party. He would be with his people at CUBBERLEY:
Memphis Tennessee, March 18, 1968:
"It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages. I need not remind you that this is the plight of our people all over America. The vast majority of Negroes in our country are still perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. My friends, we are living as a people in a literal depression. Now you know when there is vast unemployment and underemployment in the black community, they call it a social problem. When there is vast unemployment and underemployment in the white community they call it a depression. But we find ourselves living in a literal depression all over this country as a people.
Now the problem isn't only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working everyday? They are making wages so low that they can not begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.
You are here tonight to demand that Memphis do something about the conditions that our brothers face, as they work day in and day out for the well-being of the total community. You are here to demand that Memphis will see the poor.
You know, Jesus reminded us in a magnificent parable one day that a man went to Hell because he didn't see the poor. And his name was Dives. There was a man by the name of Lazarus who came daily to his gate in need of the basic necessities of life. Dives didn't do anything about it. He ended up going to Hell.
But there is nothing in that parable that says that Dives went to Hell because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. It is true that one day a rich young ruler came before him talking about eternal life. And he advised him to sell all. But in that instance Jesus was prescribing individual surgery, and not setting forth a universal diagnosis.
If you will go on and read that parable in all of its dimensions, and all of its symbolism, you will remember that a conversation took place between Heaven and Hell. And on the other end of that long distance call between heaven and Hell was Abraham in Heaven talking to Dives in Hell. It wasn't a millionaire in Hell talking with a multimillionaire in heaven. Dives didn't go to Hell because he was rich. His wealth was an opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus.
Dives went to Hell because he passed by Lazarus every day, but he never really saw him. Dives went to Hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible. Dives went to Hell because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. Dives went to Hell because he maximized the minimum, and minimized the maximum. Dives finally went to Hell because he wanted to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.
And I come by here to say that America too is going to Hell, if we don't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to Hell. I will hear America through her historians years and years to come saying, "We built gigantic buildings to kiss the sky. We build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we were able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths."
But it seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, "even though you've done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security, and you didn't provide for them. So you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness." This may well be the indictment on America that says in Memphis to the mayor, to the power structure, "If you do it unto the least of these my brethren, you do it unto me."…
Now you're doing something else here. You are highlighting the economic issues. You are going beyond purely civil rights to questions of human rights. That is distinct…
Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know now, that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't have enough money to buy a hamburger? What does it profit a man to be able to eat at the swankest integrated restaurant when he doesn't even earn enough money to take his wife out to dine? What does it profit one to have access to the hotels of our cities, and the hotels of our highways, when we don't earn enough money to take our family on a vacation? What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school, when he doesn't earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?
So we assemble here tonight. You have assembled for more than thirty days now to say, "We are tired. We are tired of being at the bottom. We are tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. We are tired of our children having to attend overcrowded, inferior, quality-less schools. We are tired of having to live in dilapidated, substandard housing conditions where we don't have wall to wall carpet, but so often we end up with wall to wall rats and roaches.
"We are tired of smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. We are tired of walking up the streets in search for jobs that do not exist. We are tired of working our hands off and laboring every day and not even making a wage adequate with daily basic necessities of life. We are tired of our men being emasculated, so that our wives and our daughters have to go out and work in the white ladies' kitchens, cleaning up, unable to be with our children, to give them the time and the attention that they need. We are tired."
So in Memphis we have begun. We are saying, "Now is the time." Get the word across to everybody in power in this town that now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time to make the real promises of democracy. Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all of God's children, now is the time for city hall to take a position for that which is just and honest. Now is the time for justice to roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Now is the time."