gary s. whitford

Every time you pledge allegiance to the flag, you promised to step forward for which it stands, liberty and justice for all. As far as I am concerned, you promise to share your experience, your dreams, your knowledge and your ideas for making this world a better place to live. You promise to, when the state of our nation so demands, resist the way it has always been and turn the course of human development in a new direction.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made good on his pledge, calling out a clear and present beacon that America is comprised of all of its citizens, that we all make this country what it is.

Seeking freedom and fairness

The greatest American rhetoric, from the Revolution to the speeches that will be delivered during tomorrow’s MLK Day commemorations, advocates freedom and fairness. Fear can make us draw back from each other, hold up our arms to destroy someone threatening to “take away” our rights. Courage can make us stand up and say things that draw people together in righteous, non-violent resolution to achieve a better nation.

One of the largest MLK marches in the nation

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Domain Photo, Library of Congress.

I once heard that San Antonio has the second-largest government paycheck in the nation. Between the military bases, contractors, retirees and the usual bureaucracies you would find in any city, we have a lot of people taking the third Monday of each January off to march in the street. I was on MLK Drive last year, and I’ll be there tomorrow. The march starts at 10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Academy, 3501 Martin Luther King Drive. Get more details from DreamWeek San Antonio.

Dr. King led us to a new understanding of race and social equality in America. His assassination was followed by riots in cities across the nation. President Lyndon Johnson, following in the footsteps of Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower before him, led Congress in passing unprecedented voting rights, anti-discrimination and social justice initiatives. In recent times, assertive actions in state and national politics have tried to walk back some of those policies, challenging them in court and choking off funding for education and regulation.

Upcoming DreamWeek Events:

Sunday: Spirit

11:15 a.m. Celebrating the Dream, sponsored by Breakthrough Church at Roosevelt High School Pruitt Library

Noon – 3 p.m. Biga Chefs for Chefs Benefit Brunch at Biga on the Banks

2 p.m. Wreath Laying Ceremony sponsored by MLK Commission at Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza

4 p.m. Citywide Interfaith Service sponsored by MLK Commission at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church

5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Urban Dream Worship Concert sponsored by Truth MusIQ at St. Philip’s College Auditorium

8 p.m. The Party Before the March at The War Room (aka Limelight)

Monday (MLK Day): Justice

8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Pre-March Worship Service at Martin Luther King Academy

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 am Early Worship Program at Pittman-Sullivan Park

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Martin Luther King, Jr. MARCH starting at MLK Academy

Noon – 2 p.m. Commemorative Program at Pittman-Sullivan Park

2 p.m. Women of Distinction at San Antonio Museum of Art

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. UTSA Restorative Justice Panel: Where do we go from here? at UTSA College of Public Policy

7 p.m. Neighborhood Inaugural Ball of San Antonio at Antioch Community Sports Complex

8 p.m. MLK Comedy Show at Rivercenter Comedy Club

Tuesday: Business

8:30 a.m. Diversifying Your Business Opportunities at UTSA SBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Center

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Diversity in the Downtown Workplace an Urban Renaissance Luncheon at Sheraton Gunter Hotel

5 p.m. – 10 p.m. DreamWeek Closing Party at The Red Berry Mansion

[See full MLK Commission Calendar here.]

We have miles to go

We are a better nation than we were before Rosa Parks and a century of Jim Crow moved Dr. King to pick up the mantle of freedom and take it to the front of the American agenda. But we have a lot further to go. In her poem “Bankrupt,” Cat Lee picks up an excerpt from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to associate Dr. King’s assertion that the American economy has yet to make good on its promise with the 2008 banking failures. She delivered the poem at Urban 15 in September accompanied by Cecil Carter and Rene Saenz.

Add your rhetoric to the chorus of America the Beautiful

We can blame our disappointment in America’s inability to fulfill its promise as a land of opportunity and liberty on any number of factors. We can allow our woes and fears to overwhelm us. Or we can open a new document and start sharing. You have your own opinions – write them down, make them known, share your ideas. We can only be a better America if you will be a more articulate American.

“I Marched with Dr. King on Monday”

I wrote a poem about last year’s March. Afterward, I went to Washington D.C. to visit my son and his family. On a day trip into the capital, I visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and recorded the poem on my iPad.

I marched with Dr. King on Monday.

He was pregnant and pushing a stroller,

Committed to raising all children,

Red and Yellow, Black and White,

Rich and Poor, raising All Children

to Fulfill the Dream.

I marched with Dr. King on Monday.

He was wearing a corporate volunteer t-shirt,

Committed to making opportunities for all workers,

Management and Laborer, Hourly and Salaried,

Investor and Freelancer,

opportunities for All Workers

to Pursue Happiness.

I marched past Dr. King’s house on Monday.

He had signs out front, not fancy mass produced signs,

Hand-Lettered Signs, Old Signs,

Signs inked that very Morning,

Signs of Free Speech, Signs of Faithful Belief,

Calling, “use well your Voting Rights

We fought too hard to win them

for you to let them pass unused.”

I heard Dr. King speak on Monday,

Not on the big stage with its megascreen displays,

But on the Martin Luther King Freedom Bridge,

All the way down Martin Luther King Drive

Across the Pittman Sullivan fields,

100,000 Strong he was,

People making use of the Banker’s Holiday,

Making their Stand One Step at a Time, Singing:

“Do what you must to us,

take all the advantage you must, but

Freedom will Last, Freedom will Last,

Thank God All Mighty, Freedom will Last.”

San Antonio copywriter gary s. whitford is half of Extraordinary Words, providing effective communications for business and non-profit development. “Bankrupt” is © 2012 by Catherine Lee. “I Marched with Dr. King on Monday” is © 2012 by gary s. whitford. You can find Extraordinary Words on Facebook, LinkedIn and its website. You can read more on gary’s personal blog and at “Every Word Counts” on The Rivard Report.

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gary s. whitford

San Antonio copywriter gary s. whitford is a partner in Extraordinary Words, providing clear, compelling content for business and non-profit communications. gary has lived in San Antonio for 2/3 of his...