On Martin Luther King Jr Day, fourteen hardy souls from GPC went down to West Kensington Ministries on Norris Square to join in a program for the morning. At West Kensington we were joined by Abington Presbyterian Church, Neshaminy Warwick Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Ivyland Presbyterian Church and residents from the community, including the local police.
We began by putting together five hundred lunches that would be distributed to many of the drop in centers that run the length of Front Street under the El. To see our kids joining in the work and working side by side with strangers was tremendously moving. But it was not just about making sandwiches as a local artist had set up a place for each participant to make a work of art that would but put together in order to create a rainbow.
Once these activities were completed, gathered together to watch the “I have a dream” speech. MLK’s words were just as powerful today as they were back then. Yes great strides have been make but much work needs to be done.
Following the speech we broke into small groups to discuss ways in which the speech has impacted us. For some, they had heard the speech several times, while for others, this was the first time. But all felt at ease because the words could have been offered today. How do we end the biases in our world? How to we engage others and learn from them? How do we understand differences without being afraid? I wish we had all the answers but we didn’t. Instead we just have find ways to engage the “other”, to learn and to grow. We must leave our own biases aside and join in the experience of another.
Perhaps the most powerful statement made, was made by a group of your African-American and Latino boys and girls who demonstrated that even in our midst they did not feel safe. We have a ways to do!
I would like those interested in it, to join with me in a study of our own biases. Howard Ross has written an outstanding book entitled Everyday Bias. We can read this book and then interact via the website and email as we share our own insights.