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MLK Day Parade: Helping Us See Ourselves

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | January 21, 2019 | No Comment |


Spectators at Marion Square for MLK Day Parade, 1.21.19

Charleston Area Justice Ministry members wait their turn to join parade.

Today was a chance for us to see each other.  A parade can’t do the hard work of building and re-building the beloved community. But it can help if it shows us that we’re “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” as today’s honoree wrote in 1963. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He also wrote, “One day the South will recognize its real heroes. . . . One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream.”

At today’s parade, marchers and spectators kept waving to each other. “Happy King Day!” everyone said. “Keep the dream alive!” some people added. Nobody seemed to get tired of waving. In the group I was marching with, people occasionally called out to friends they recognized along the way, but most of the day’s greetings were between strangers. Our common denominator:  thinking this parade was something worth showing up for.

We were seeing each other in our beautiful city– un-flooded for the time being, high-end condo construction projects casting shadows over Upper King Street, kids in our group running out to give candy to spectators, the Burke High School band putting spring in everyone’s steps.

We were seeing the city and the region, what we are and what we can become. Multicultural, diverse, dynamic, oddly hopeful. In need of so much repair.

That’s the South I study—the region I care about, pay attention to, strive to understand more deeply.

Happy King Day; keep the dream alive.

Julia Eichelberger, Director, Program in Southern Studies


under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Charleston, Social Activism in the South

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