New Haven “Rises” To King’s Full Vision

Thomas Breen photosOn the day that slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 89 years old, hundreds of New Haveners gathered to celebrate his legacy of racial and economic justice, and to extend that legacy to the current fight for immigrant rights.

Over 400 New Haveners packed into the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church on Dixwell Avenue on Monday night to sing, dance and listen to a three-hour Martin Luther King Day service organized by the local labor advocacy group New Haven Rising.

A diverse crowd of older African American churchgoers, UNITE HERE union organizers, and local politicians filled the pews and balcony, with an overflow audience moving to the church’s basement to watch a livestream of the festivities happening upstairs.

The service also brought out a slew of Democrats with statewide electoral ambitions, including Bridgeport Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Joe Ganim, Stamford State Rep. and attorney general candidate William Tong, and gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont, demonstrating the political pull that New Haven’s labor movement has for Democrats interested in being sent to Hartford in 2018.

But Monday night’s service was focused less on an embattled Connecticut election year and more on the racial, economic, social and immigration concerns raised by the President Trump administration.

“Today hateful, divisive forces threaten to take us backwards and undo the legacy of the civil rights movement,” said Varick pastor Kelcy Steele at the top of the service. “We cannot and will not stand by and allow that to happen.”

Mayor Toni Harp echoed Steele’s alarm, but also referenced the city’s 48th annual Love March and the West Haven Black Coalition’s 32nd annual MLK Day service as indicators of New Haven’s longstanding commitment to the compassion, social activism and resilience represented by Dr. King.

“We are here tonight to think about what it is that we still have to do,” she said. “We’re here tonight to say to those people who want to take us back to the 1950s that we’re not going back, but that we’re going forward together.”

As the night progressed, speaker after speaker took the stage to call for unity in opposition to what they saw as a culture of ignorance, hatred and exploitation emanating from the White House.

New Haven Rising chair Scott Marks and AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Salvatore Luciano reminded the audience that King said that racial justice was impossible without economic justice. They said that working people of all backgrounds needed to band together to advocate for more good union jobs to counteract the ever-increasing disparity in this country between the haves and the have-nots.

“Dr. King was not killed because of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” Luciano told the crowd as he recounted the deaths of Memphis sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker due to faulty work equipment on Feb. 1, 1968, and King’s subsequent push to organize striking Memphis sanitation workers before his own death on April 4. “He was killed because he told black working people, white working people, yellow working people, brown working people to all come together to fight for economic justice.”

Luciano also said that Black Lives Matter, support for a $15 minimum wage, healthcare for all, and opposition to attacks on LGBTQ people were all parts of the same collective, social justice fight.

The middle section of the service was dedicated entirely to immigration rights.

Lucas Codognolla, the director of CT Students for a Dream, told the crowd that he was “undocumented, unafraid and here to stay.” He said that different segments of the political left had to remember that immigrants can also be black, queer, and poor, and that every one of them, documented or no, needs access to a good job.

Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) volunteers Fatima Rojas and Vanesa Suarez praised New Haven’s status as a sanctuary city. They introduced Elsa Pinos, the wife of an Ecuadorian man who has found refuge at a downtown church for the past six weeks after being served with a deportation notice even though he had been living in Connecticut for 25 years, to talk about the suffering and confusion caused by seemingly arbitrary crackdowns on long-settled immigrants who have raised families and paid taxes for decades in the U.S.

And Donald Jean Marie, a Haitian immigrant who works for UNITE HERE Local 217 as a hotel union organizer in Stamford, spoke about the folly in repealing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of Central American immigrants throughout the country. He said that sending 50,000 Haitians back to an island country that is still struggling to recover from an earthquake and two hurricanes would be a humanitarian disaster.

The keynote speaker, AME Bishop W. Darin Moore, built off of the themes of racial, economic and immigration injustice and the need for collaboration that had been preached by the men and women who spoke before him. He took those prevailing sentiments, and directed them squarely at President Trump, whom he said is “a leader who is antithetical to everything Christianity represents.”

In a wide-ranging sermon that cited Kierkegaard, Southern spirituals, the new tax bill, Nebuchadnezzar, and police violence against unarmed black civilians, Moore again and again decried Trump and his administration for fostering a political culture of fear, hostility and intimidation. He said that an effective resistance to the current administration included not just marching in the streets, but also singling out and celebrating a history of achievement among both White and Black Americans.

“If you celebrate Abraham Lincoln, then you ought to celebrate Frederick Douglass,” he said. “If you celebrate Emily Dickinson, then you ought to celebrate Maya Angelou. If you celebrate Ben Affleck, then you ought to celebrate Denzel Washington. If you celebrate JFK, then you ought to celebrate MLK.”

Click on the below videos to watch excerpts from Monday night’s service.



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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 16, 2018  8:11am

Dr.Martin Luther King’s Dream has been co-opted by the Black Elite along with White liberals.

This you Tube Shows the Reak Dr.King.

Dr. MLK Jr.: Struggling Not To Lose Him.

If Dr.king was here today he would have march on these same Public figures and Judas Goat leaders and Preachers.Most who have help to sell out poor and working class people .Where are these same Public figures and Judas Goat leaders and Preachers to march to stop the take over by the gentrification vampires,March with Wendy for Apartments for the Homeless.March with John Lugo for fair wages.March with Barbara Fair who fights for the rights of those in Mass Incarceration?

Even Dr.King know that Both parties were no good.

Both political parties have betrayed the cause of justice. The Democrats have betrayed it by capitulating to the prejudice, and undemocratic practices of the Southern Dixiecrats . The Republicans have betrayed it by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of the right wing reactionary Northerners——-DR. KING

Dr.King even call out the white Churches.

I have been so greatly disappointed in the white church, and its leadership. I do no say this as one of the negative critics, who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the Gospel who loves the church. During the Montgomery bus boycott I thought we would get the support of the white church, but white ministers, priest and Rabbi’s have been some of our strongest opponents. I have watched white churches stand on the sideline saying those are issues with which the Gospel have no real concern. I have looked at their beautiful churches, and over and over again I have found myself asking what kind of people worship here, and who is their God? Why were their lips silent when Governor Wallace gave the clarion call for defiance and hatred? Yes these questions are still in my mind——-DR. KING (from his book called, a Testament of Hope)

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 16, 2018  8:19am

Part Two.

Just Like Malcolm X,Dr.King Call Out the White LIBERAL

Dr.king even talk about the THE WHITE LIBERAL

Martin Luther King, Jr’s challenge to the white liberal An excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book Where Do We Go from Here – Chaos or Community?

A leading voice in the chorus of social transition belongs to the white liberal…. Over the last few years many Negroes have felt that their most troublesome adversary was not the obvious bigot of the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society, but the white liberal who is more devoted to “order” than to justice, who prefers tranquility to equality.The White liberal must see that the Negro needs not only love, but justice. It is not enough to say, “We love Negroes, we have many Negro friends.” They must demand justice for Negroes. Love that does not satisfy justice is no love at all. It is merely a sentimental affection, little more than what one would love for a pet. Love at its best is justice concretized. Love is unconditional. It is not conditional upon one’s staying in his place or watering down his demands in order to be considered respectable….The white liberal must rid himself of the notion that there can be a tensionless transition from the old order of injustice to the new order of justice…. The Negro has not gained a single right in America without persistent pressure and agitation….Nonviolent coercion always brings tension to the surface. This tension, however, must not be seen as destructive. There is a kind of tension that is both healthy and necessary for growth. Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism.

Part Three

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 16, 2018  8:22am

Part Three

It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. Last Summer when we had our open housing marches in Chicago, many of our white liberal friends cried out in horror and dismay: “You are creating hatred and hostility in the white communities in which you are marching, You are only developing a white backlash.” I could never understand that logic. They failed to realize that the hatred and the hostilities were already latently or subconsciously present. Our marches merely brought them to the surface….The white liberal must escalate his support for racial justice rather than de-escalate it…. The need for commitment is greater today than ever.

Bottom line.It will be business as usual.

posted by: CT DRV on January 16, 2018  9:16am

Funny that Ganim attends an event such as this when his own police department in Bridgeport is still uncountable for the death of Jason Negron, an unarmed 15 year old who was shot by officer James Boulay in May of 2017. (Jayson was not given medical treatment for 20 minutes after the shooting, his body laid in the street for six hours while BPD was on site.) Given the department’s atrocious track record, including multiple civil rights violations (and investigations) I can’t believe he had the nerve to show his face at this event, let alone in New Haven.

Did no one in attendance have the nerve to confront him on this issue? The posturing of this pol at an event that is so clearly against his administration’s policy and practice should make us all sick.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 16, 2018  5:45pm

posted by: CT DRV on January 16, 2018 9:16am

Did no one in attendance have the nerve to confront him on this issue? The posturing of this pol at an event that is so clearly against his administration’s policy and practice should make us all sick.

The Leadership will not confront him on this issue due to the fact that just like Judas had his hand in the money bag.They to have there hand in the money Bag.They have sold there souls to the machine.