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
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
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).