Monday, August 5, 2013

Blacks & Hispanics: "A Single Garment of Destiny"

On August 24, human rights activists and religious leaders from across the country and the world will converge on Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

The original march (actually called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom), which attracted more than 250,000 participants propelled  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s to national prominence after his now famous 'I Have a Dream' speech, in which he cast a vision of brotherhood and justice, arguably one of the two or three greatest speeches in American history.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
This year, one of the keynote addresses will be delivered by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a leading Hispanic evangelical minister. Rev. Rodriguez' message will be a significant symbol of the recognition of the need for unity between black and Hispanic communities. However this won't be a departure of the quest for justice in our nation.

When Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, while becoming more deeply engaged in showing solidarity with the rights of garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee, he was simultaneously planning a 'Poor People's Campaign', a forerunner of the modern day 'Occupy' movement. The aims were to bring countless poor people from all over America - poor whites, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans - to our nation's capitol, to camp out in the mall and the parks and to 'occupy' the capitol demanding that policies be enacted to end poverty in the United States.

Prior to King's death, reached out to national leaders who were fighting for economic and political justice for Hispanics...

"[Martin Luther King]knew Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta as colleagues and privately encouraged them to continue their resistance with their work at UFW. In the Spring of 1963 in order to build the March on Washington where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, King came to Los Angeles rally for Mexican Americans. A large rally of 20,000 or more came to hear him at L.A.’s Wrigley Field and sponsored special guest speaker Juan Cornejo (the first Mexican American elected to the all-white city council in border town Crystal City, Texas, in 1963)."

"In the months before his death April 4, 1968, MLK spearheaded a movement to address economic inequality during the presidential campaign. The movement was to unite poor people of all color and nationalities.  MLK reached out to the Chicano Movement and began meeting with leaders, such as Bert Corona, Corky Gonzales and Reies Tijerina.  He wanted to ensure that Mexican Americans were heavily involved in the grassroots formation of the Poor People’s Movement." You can read more about his efforts to build coalition with the Hispanic community here

Samuel Rodriguez who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference ( and who also spoke at Dallas' Justice Revival a few years ago), role in the 2013 March on Washington is a realization of what King meant when he said that "...we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny - I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be."

We all should be praying that we can not only speak on a common platform, but work with this common purpose in mind. 

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