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#OneRouge Friday Community Check-In (Week 88)




Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in EBR, The Walls Project has been hosting weekly video calls with leaders of nonprofits, foundations, city government, and local businesses from a

cross the parish. The intention of these weekly community check-ins is to share information and resources to help the Baton Rouge community respond and recover from the pandemic. Weekly topics range from access to basic needs such as food, medical care, and safety to thought-leaders' insights on equitable opportunities for youth enrichment, nonprofit financial solvency, surge in unemployment, and the disproportionate impact on impoverished neighborhoods in regards to accessing fresh food.


 

'MLK Jr. Legacy Celebration'

Meeting Notes Prepared by Samantha Morgan (Walls Project)


Helen Fink - Mayor’s office

  • While it has been tough with covid and rescheduling our events to February, but we feel confident in this decision. It’s not as festive and community oriented as we’ve seen in the past, but airing on the side of caution is in our best interest.

  • Streaming virtual program on Monday. It will be airing later this week on Cox.

  • As we move into February, if you have an event going on in February, or you have groups looking to be part of an activity, please reach out.

  • Community festival is on February 19. Aligning with Krewe of Oshun. They will have their parade and that will lead directly into a community festival. Will happen in Scotlandville.


As we celebrate MLK Day I would like to reflect on his vision by reflecting on his famous, "I have a Dream" speech. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has continued to be that beacon of light

that shines through our communities, generations after generations.


Dr. King; did you know that it's been over 150 years since Slavery and many of us still live on

that, "lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity!"? Despite

your Dream Dr. KING, we are living in a Shameful Condition.


We are at the Mountain TOP; So, where is YOUR Promise Land? We are smarter and wiser;

JUST Think about it; we have MORE than we've ever had and SHALL die and leave it ALL!

BUT, We give, give and give and yet so many have NO place to Live.


We clean and clean and clean but our communities are still a HOT MESS!!


Dr. King, What Happened?


Scotlandville, is The Promise land! or Is it ALL just a DREAM? The VILLAGE of Scotlandville, Oh how RICH it is! It was built on a foundation put in place by families like the William Kelly family, son of Saul Kelly from Kansas. 1906! The Power of a DREAM! Sweet and Rich beginnings, 33.3 acres owned by a Black Man.. an honest pay for honest work! The Community of Opportunity!


The Horatio C Thompson, family, He, himself, was a Millionaire!


Scotlandville, Home to Southern University,


The Village supported - 5 grocery stores, 1 hotel, 3 motels, several schools, 20 churches/ 6

denominations, 2 shoe shops, several local diners and 2 movie theaters. Scotlandville, is The

Promise land! BUT It's ALL up to YOU!


What Happened, Dr. King?


It seems we have written promise checks our current ACTIONS can Never cash. We were

promised the Right to LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Dr. King , .... What

Happened?


Wake UP Baton Rouge, Wake Up Louisiana, Wake up America!!!


We are at the Mountain Top! Can you see the Promise land?; It's ALL up to YOU!

Dr. King, you said anybody can serve! GUYS, It's time to make a "SHIFT" ! We SHALL and MUST continue in our Stead for Righteousness!!


We can ALL demand and make changes for Justice WITHOUT changing the rule of the game to keep the Winners Winning and the Losers Loosing.


I have a dream that one day ALL of my Scotlandville babies WILL be able to STAND tall, Head UP, Shoulders back, and Chest out; Proud to be an American in the USA.


Living, Working and Playing in a community embraced by all! We don't want to be YOU, I just want to be, THE "BEST" ME .. that I can BE!


We are at the Mountain Top; but it appears, some were bad checks and they were returned,

back marked "insufficient funds" ! (Enough has been paid) It's Fraud!! It's Fraud, I tell you! I

agree with Rebecca Roberts when she declared, "I don't believe the bank of JUSTICE is

Bankrupt!"


So my dream shall remain deeply rooted in Scotlandville, that it would rise up YET AGAIN and live out the true meaning of its CREED; "The village HAS everything the Village Needs"!

I have a dream that one day ALL of the sons of former slaves and former slave owners, will

embrace us for our contributions and for who we are.


YES, I have a dream that one day all of the descendants of Harriet Tubman's Underground

Railroad support staff, will once again sit down "together" at the table of brotherhood!

We are at the MOUNTAIN TOP, WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED


WE SEE THE ISSUES AND WE KNOW THE NEEDS - THIS is the Promise land! OR

Is it ONLY JUST A DREAM?


WELL, It's ALL up to you!


You are the person who has to decide, whether you will DO IT or put it aside.


You are the PERSON who MUST make up in YOUR mind, whether you LEAD or LINGER behind


Whether you will STRIVE for the GOLD up afar or just be CONTENT to stay where YOU ARE

There is something you can do,


Just think it Over, cause it's ALL up to YOU, YOU, YOU! (Author

Unknown)


Rev. Alexis Anderson

  • Much of the strategy of the civil rights movement was based around the immorality of certain laws. Being able to advocate for those changes meant walking into the consequences of those laws, such as being arrested.

  • Dr. King was stabbed by a woman with bipolar schizophrenia. His response was that she is ill.

  • My first call to action is that we have to get into the game. The reason he was in a jail cell is because he was willing to work to change democracy. There are at least three major examples going on right now that we stop treating citizenship as a spectator sport. There are 500 pre-trial detainees from Harris County Texas being brought to Louisiana. We are bringing people into this state in the midst of a pandemic and why are we doing that? Because we have privatized prisons in the state. And who does it? Sheriffs. They are picked, they are elected

  • The March 26 election went from a singular position to suddenly being a very important election. We will fill Ted James' position and a judge’s position. It means redistricting is on the table. Every time we get a new judge we get a new justice system. Billions of dollars are on the table. And all budgets are moral documents.

  • We are drawing in omicron. The virus didn’t go anywhere. And yet we have people who are not paying attention to the policies and procedures and the people we are using to run this. We have got to choose, like Dr. King, to get into the game and that there are consequences to the game.

  • My second call to action is let’s start reframing how we can take on the big challenges. How can we solve the problem?

  • Let’s stop giving up on people, period, but particularly our youth. No one God created is disposable. We have got to stop pretending we are building capacity when we are not. We have awesome youth programs. We have got to put counselors and coaches at how we get to young people. I love organizations that believe in succession plans, because you’re not always going to be in charge.

  • We’ve got to be an example and stop being a voice.

  • Let’s stop walking away from the hard opportunity. It is hard to go into a school and work with kids you’ve already given up on. It’s hard to go into the streets and claim those babies back. It’s hard to put jobs into neighborhoods that you have demonized. Instead of judging, pick up the broom and dustpan, do you need some hope, do you need some prayer, do you need some money, do you need help with that blighted building. I challenge all of us to get into the game and reframe how we think of these things. Let’s stop giving up on one another even when we don’t agree. Love overcomes a multitude.


Dr. Fletcher Bell

  • MLK means a lot to me because without what he did I would not be here.

  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

  • We live in a world where things are not seen in equal eyes, in equal ways. MLK stood for equality. The work has to encompass everyone. I think about the voting rights he passed in 1965 and how it has now been desecrated in the supreme court.

  • I look at fair housing and how we still have such a gap between who can afford and who cannot. I look at health equity and who has access to care. Just the knowledge of what’s good for you - those basic things are not getting out into our communities. I look to the education system and how we’re still fighting for equal education for all.

  • The thing that comes to my mind is equality and the lack thereof that we’re now showing as a country. I want us to reflect and think - let’s stop saying how we want to see change and start thinking about how we can make change.

  • I wanted to reflect on Dr. King’s role in education. We should be fulfilling with our education that we serve every child well.

  • People talk a lot about education as a civil rights issue, in order to be truly free, people have to be educated. It’s going to take every one of us getting into the game to deliver what is needed for our community.

  • All of our challenges are interwoven. We will never solve all of those challenges until we talk about education.

  • It’s important to reflect on how we’re preparing everybody and what they have to contribute to society.

  • I usually avoid these types of conversations, not because I don’t appreciate the sacrifices and the promise of the civil rights movement. Usually those things are romanticized and we often overlook what fundamentally makes movements successful.

  • I’m reminded of a video that’s based on the biography of Rosa Parks and they talk about how the Montgomery bus boycott came into play. It included women and young people and teenage mothers and formerly incarcerated people. I’m inspired by the inclusivity of the movement. And that’s what I wanted to share. It takes a village but sometimes it can feel like there’s this predetermined group of people who get to participate in the movement and that’s contrary to what Dr. King stood for. When you look at video, you saw all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. What you don’t often see is the group of sisters who were handing out sandwiches and the people who wrote checks. You don’t see the people who are holding up the camera, and today that’s people who are on social media.

  • My call to action is “don’t call nobody out.” People do what they can and it takes every bit of action. If all you have is a loaf of bread, then make a sandwich. If all you can do is hashtag, then hashtag. If you want to show up and march, then march.

  • Whatever you do, don’t look around at the other people and say you should be doing what I'm doing. Be gracious and forgiving and allow people to move in the way that they can. The only way Dr. King was able to do what he did is because of the people he surrounded himself with.

  • Just in terms of the power of narrative, we look at the narrative of the past and are we going and digging deeper. When I think of MLK, I think of those things that aren’t told. When he moved to issues that were not just about the black community.

  • We have him held up as a leader, but that obscures and hides all the people around him. And how the establishment used him to hide the people behind him. The “I have a dream” speech was supposed to be the day trash workers were going on strike. They weren’t going there to have speeches and have something done by sundown. They were going to dump the trash on the streets. That was the idea behind that moment in time. The workers were coming to shut the capitol down. Instead, the media, the powers that be, went to the leaders and said we have to wrap this up and we have to shut this down by sundown. We can’t have the trash in the streets. That's part of the history that gets obscured.

  • If we stop as people, life can’t happen. The people who make money off us can’t get that money. Be careful of our need for a leader. In this time of coronavirus, think of what’s breaking down and whose striking. There are color lines. There are people of all colors being exploited. We need to fight for equality for all people.

  • We need to figure out how we can all come together, whether they have a spokesperson or not. When we start controlling the narrative and the things that they are trying to hide. When we all come together, nothing can stop us.

  • I once had a conversation with a family member who was alive during the time MLK was active and doing things. There was a level of empowerment that was neglected in the black community. Before that time there were times when white people would walk into a black home and just take something. It was a power play. You are not a full citizen. It kept people off kilter. It was a level of threat at any moment.

  • The existence of Dr. King and the civil rights movement changed everything. It was not just a person saying you should vote, it was a way of exacting a sovereignty of yourself and being a full human.

  • This is not a historical issue, this is active. This is something we are constantly building and empowering.

  • I work in museums, and one of the things I think about is what our monuments are. We idealize certain characters in history, we also have to remember that these people are human. They were still able to do extraordinary things because of the community that supported them. Yes, we are no longer in the we need a leader framework. We all have a lot more empowerment. The internet has empowered a lot of disenfranchised voices. I have been able to experience the civil rights trail that the Lt. Governor has been putting up. We were able to put on the Green Book exhibit. One is in front of the Old State Capitol for the bus boycott. The fact that we now have a monument to it calls to what we prioritize the community. We all have a place in this. We all have a way in participating.

  • For me, I try to create equitable places. Museums are luxuries, but they are the space where we move society's entire understanding of the world forward. The fact that your tax dollars support these things that can be seen as recreation, it shows that these things are valuable as a society. Art has always been something that different governments put money into. When we are thinking about who’s on the pedestal, it’s important to think about all who put those there. This is not a larger than life figure. We have just put the emphasis to make them larger than life. Everyone here has the potential to be that monument. How do we empower each other and take full advantage of our humanity.

  • One of the things that often gets tagged to Dr. King is race, but he was also focused on economics.

  • Dr. King said that the history of this country, with the homestead act, when black people went west, their property was taken from them.

  • Follow the money trail on how many things are being taken from people and blocked from people making advancement. Dr. King’s last speech was dealing with sanitary workers.

  • Let us not forget the essential workers. The ones who do the work every day to keep our streets cleaned and our schools open.

  • This day is not about him, it’s about a movement.

  • It was necessary to have the Black Panther movement so there was an alternative to pacifism. The marching in the streets was a tactic in a larger strategy. It was a multipronged approach.

  • In honor of not only Dr. King, but all those folks who continue to be oppressed in ways that are horrific and shocking, that we are not just focusing on one person.

  • The version of Dr. King that we are teaching generations that has come since is white washed.

  • My words today are really for the other white folks on this call. The white washing and legacy that then get removed from their teeth.

  • What is unpalatable to your organization and the city and start pushing that edge and pushing ourselves into a space of reeducation and to move ourselves into material redistribution.


 

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