CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE ALBERT BALDEO PAYS TRIBUTE TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King-two of my heroes.

Everyday, relatively new immigrant groups like our Diaspora experience the challenging, yet unique American process of assimilation here in the USA, the Home of the Brave, and the Land of the Free. From "alien, an outsider, to a citizen, "one of us." How is our Diaspora community faring in this effort? Let us try to understand the importance of the historical nexus of our entry into America, and answer the rhetorical question Dr. King himself asked, "Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?"

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the struggles of our African-American brethren changed restrictive immigration policies and opened doors for us. When we celebrate Dr Martin Luther King's Day, it reminds us of the universality of the message of love, peace, brotherhood and the principles of truth and justice. In a letter from Birmingham City Jail, April 1963, Dr King wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

It is trite that Dr King was strongly influenced by Gandhi's thoughts on nonviolence. Globalization of thought has existed from time immemorial. In March, 1936, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could."

New York is a microcosm of America. Its portals are graced by the entry of many different people, whose blood, sweat and tears, oftentimes unrequited, provide the foundations for growth. Its strength is its diversity, in excelsis. The gatekeeper was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, it was Dr. King who not only brought together the African-American community, but also welcomed people from around the world, from all races and walks of life, to follow his dream and work for equality and justice. The celebration of his life is a timely reminder of the ideals for which he stood. Not for a day, but for the rest of our lives, if we are to truly and collectively live the American dream! Today, we are the beneficiary of his dream.

To live the dreams and hopes of both Dr Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, our community must unite for a common cause, and unite and participate in meaningful political pursuits. Our community must see this day as an all-inclusive American holiday, the most pivotal in our history, one for all of us.

One of the pillars of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings was to attain freedom and build unity by integrating the principles of Truth and using peaceful methods to advocate self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The Baldeo Community Center, located at 125-14 Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, New York has initiated the integration effort. It is open to the community for other uses, FREE of charge. All are welcome. Our efforts here will continue the process of assisting our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters. We must demystify archaic traditions of caste, class and consciousness, and help our neighbors to see us as just another brother passing this way but once, and if we stop to help a brother or sister, it must be seen as just that-humanity.

But we are yet to realize our own collective potential. When we build bridges of understanding with our neighbors, we need to address our internal community issues. We must applaud and promote service to our brothers and sisters, not detract from them. Service costs money and time, which is a sacrifice. We need to develop our civic consciousness, overcome our petty prejudices and narrow mindedness, and make a difference in the fabric of the country we have adopted as our own.

The Civil Rights Movement of Rev. King changed the course of history in America. We must nurture inspiration today to understand what it means to be part of a much more diverse and challenging America, where our challenges will grow daily. Just as how communities across America are inspired, daily, by King and Gandhi's approach of inclusion, brotherhood, peace and nonviolence, we must likewise take counsel. My fervent hope is that we will understand the issues and get involved to strengthen and empower ourselves, our neighborhoods, our families and communities before it is too late.

Long live Rev. Martin Luther King!

Postscript: Dr King wrote five books, all compulsory reading: Stride Toward Freedom (1958), Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can't Wait (1964), Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968).

 

 
  AlbertBaldeoForCityCouncil.Com 2005