Let us remember Martin Luther King Junior‘s birthday in the wake of the violence of January 8, 2011 here in Tucson, Arizona.
January 15 was slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. This year the MLK holiday is celebrated on January 17, but I think this year our minds are mostly remembering the recent mass murders here in Tucson exactly a week ago on January 8, 2011 of six innocent persons, along with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords of CD 8 and 12 other civilian bystanders.
King preached non-violence and marched for civil rights and peace. Yet he was struck down at age 39 by an assassin’s rifle bullet in Memphis, Tennessee.
Our nation was shocked even more when two months later former New York U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated by a man with a hand gun, while Kennedy was campaigning for U.S. President. He was 42 years old.
I would like to think that King’s message of non-violence and peace resonated with generations of people after these two horrible assassinations, both in 1968. I had hoped that his death had not been in vain. Now I’m not so sure based on the recent mass attack by an 22 year old armed man in Tucson of an innocent crowd of constituents waiting to talk to their U.S. Congresswoman. 6 brave Americans gave up their lives that Saturday morning.
As U.S. President Barack Obama said at the memorial service at the University of Arizona’s McKale Center on January 12, 2011:
They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.
Such senseless tragedies, for people just “practicing democracy.”
Let us continue to work towards mutual cooperation, tolerance, acceptance, and civil discourse. On Friday local politicians in Tucson pledged at a press conference to “commit to promote a civil discussion of the issues we face.” Let’s hope they fulfill their pledge.
Please join in the MLK March starting at the U of A Mall (8:30 a.m.) and Festival Celebration at Reid Park (10:30 a.m.) on Monday January 17. Let us together pray, march, and celebrate in Dr. King’s name for all that he stood for.
Violence has no place in our society.
1/17/11 Update: speaking today at the MLK opening ceremony at U of A mall:
Clarence Boykins (organizer of this event for 26 years from Tucson-Southern AZ Black Chamber of Commerce), Congressman Raul Grijalva (CD 7), Mayor Bob Walkup, Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, former City Councilman Chuck Ford, Councilman Richard Fimbres, Eva Dong Carrillo from Sunnyside School Board. Also attending: City Councilman Paul Cunningham and City Manager Mike Letcher, and thousands of Tucsonans.