Martin Luther King Day, 2012: Reflections from the Community

Image courtesy of The Bonner Center

Compiled by Amanda Dahill-Moore, Editor

We asked people from the Greensboro area to share their experience of a day which celebrates civil rights, social justice activism, and Martin Luther King, Jr., an iconic figure who embodied the spirit of change, and whose life’s work still inspires us now, almost 44 years after his death.

Joy Schreiber

Joy is a drummer for Cakalak Thunder, a radical drum corps based out of Greensboro, NC, which uses the power of percussion to enact social change.  Here she describes the vibrancy of Greensboro’s annual Martin Luther King Day parade:

“The parade each year is always bursting with timeless energy and a great outpouring from the community here in Greensboro. It’s really quite moving. Over 100 organizations, schools, bands, churches and more were represented in the parade and on the streets, dancing and cheering in January’s unusually warm weather. Cakalak Thunder marched with comrades from Occupy Greensboro.”

Below are some pictures of the parade taken by Cameron Prevatte, a friend of Cakalak Thunder:

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Photo Credit: Cameron Prevatte

Schrieber continues, explaining what Martin Luther King Day means to her as well as her own passion for social justice:

“It’s an inclusive celebration event, which I admire, but for me, and in the spirit and honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., there is more work to be done, more grounds to break while building; it’s how I feel at every march, protest, conference, and event. We may not always know or feel the answers or solutions to (social) injustices; we may not always understand each other or know how to build meaningful and sustaining relationships with the ‘other side(s),’ but in the words of the man honored with this march, ‘Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend,’ and it’s my hope and New Year’s resolution to come to the table not only from a place of solidarity, but of love to share with friends, and even enemies.”

Dawn Leonard

Dawn is a classically trained Iyengar Yoga instructor at Guilford College. In addition to teaching at Guilford, Dawn also offers classes at Free Spirits Yoga downtown every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30. Dawn led a yoga session on social change for Guilford’s Teach-Ins on Monday, in honor of MLK day. Here she discusses how we can apply the principles of yoga for social change that begins with ourselves.

“In the classical sense, yoga is not about the body much at all, but about our minds. It is about raising awareness and consciousness, and in that way it is all about social change. The first principles of yoga include guidance on ethical behavior and personal disciplines. This includes ideas such as non-harming, truthfulness, dedication to a task, and my favorite: self-study. Yoga reminds us that the only thing we can control in this world is our own mind and actions. Therefore, when we look to create social change, at any level, we must always look inward first. This is not to imply that yoga and self-awareness are solitary modes of being at all. On the contrary, our social interactions are what teach us about how we react, respond, and are or are not part of a solution.

“Deeper into the practice of yoga are the ideas of focus, concentration and meditation. This is where true change occurs. Memes appear and disappear in popular culture that is often trivial and sometimes even malicious. But think: If we create memes of contentment, friendliness, compassion and love — that would have true power for social change! There are new ‘meditation mobs’ appearing around the country. I don’t think it is coincidence that several people have come to me as a yoga teacher on this MLK Jr Day to connect yoga with social change. It is a new awareness that is breaking forth at this moment. Learn to embrace it, and use it for positive social change.”

Isabel Elliot

Isabel is a junior at Guilford College. Here she shares her experience attending one of the Teach-In events hosted by Bonner, “Who’s In and Who’s Out: Examining Borders, Public Spaces, and Homelessness,” led by Hannah Early. The workshop discussed terms relating to homelessness, why we build borders and barriers, and sit/lie laws in Greensboro:

“The discussions that came out of this workshop were really wonderful; as a group, we talked about a lot of the issues facing homeless individuals (limited access to health care, marginalization, stereotyping, legal barriers, etc.). We also brainstormed some solutions and talked about what we think would be ‘good for Greensboro,’ everything from setting up a free clinic to working on an attitude shift. An hour was not long enough to talk about these issues or work towards implementation of our ideas but it was a good start to a conversation that will hopefully continue.”

What are your thoughts and experiences on Martin Luther King Day?  How did you spend last Monday?  Share them in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Martin Luther King Day, 2012: Reflections from the Community

  1. I think Martin Luther King Day always gives us the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the distance we have traversed in terms of social justice and yet also recognize the social injustices that still exist everyday in our country.

    It opens up a dialogue, like this one on guilcosojo, and has the potential to bring people together for real change, socially, politically, and culturally. As polarized as our country is now, I’d like to think that there are certain basic values upon which our country was founded that we should be willing to defend and uphold, even if it means cooperating with ‘the other side.’

    “In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

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