What if God is One of Us?

By: Ana Davila

Sometimes when I am on a run, on the bus, walking home, laying in bed, and so forth, I wonder to myself, “Where is God in this moment?” Is He in the person sitting across from me? The wind blowing through a tree? The ants invading the sidewalk crack?…Maybe all the above? Regardless, God has shown himself to be with me in everything done this year with VVC and in a lot of ways that really surprised me because coming to Cincinnati was, for me, a culture shock. Prior to VVC I had never lived in a city, never been apart from family, never had to rely on the bus as my main means of transportation, and I wasn’t used to hearing people and cars at every hour of the day. Therefore, to sum it all up, the expression “fish out of water” comes to mind when I reflect on my feelings during the first few months of this year of service. I struggled a lot with finding my place here. Seeing and feeling Christ so deeply through my fellow VVC’s, St. Vincent de Paul staff, and West End communities helped to bridge that gap for me.

I have always been enchanted by the question, “What if God is one of us?”. As a Vincentian, I love to deepen my spirituality through pondering where I saw Christ that day. During this year of service with the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati, I have met Christ countless times and in various ways; convincing me that God is indeed in all of us.

For me, God was in my community and He was disguised as Jack, Mary Ellen, Phyllis, Sarah, David, Carmen, and Preeya. I knew He was in them because I could feel His presence when the tough conversations were shared and when the conversations that had me laughing so hard I’d nearly fall out of my chair were shared. Jack resembled God through his humor, Mary Ellen through her leadership, Carmen through her selflessness, David through his patience, Preeya through her protectiveness, Sarah through her determination, and Phyllis through her dependability. I love and understand God deeper since sharing life with these seven people and I am a better, more authentic version of myself because I had them, specifically, to share the mission and time of VVC with.

The greater Cincinnati and West End community has also been a place where I’ve unfailingly met Christ. Mother Teresa once said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you.”. I feel this quote to be true in two different ways in the West End: in how I perceive being alongside my neighbors, and in how they have been alongside me. To accept that you cannot help everyone is a heavy cross to carry. My neighbors and this quote have made it less of a burden by carrying that cross with me. My friends in Cincinnati who would come into St. Vincent de Paul exuded love and pain in a way that exemplified Jesus beautifully. Their sacrifice of  self for others, unconditional love for their neighbors, prayers with/for me, laughter, singing, and dancing shared, their hard working examples, and their praise for God above all else opened my heart and mind to the Vincentian mission in a new light. Too, they radiated the Lord to me and because of how they treated me as their neighbor, I see God in them.

The parish I celebrate mass with is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. There, I was introduced to a hymn called “God has smiled on me”. The words are short, but powerful. When I think about my year in Cincinnati, and all the people I met God in, I can’t help but conclude that God is one of us and that He has smiled on me.

 

ana and marcie
Ana Davila is originally from the Adirondack Mountain region of New York. She is passionate about the mountains, being a twin, and seeing Christ in others and being Christ to others, especially those with developmental disabilities. When not doing her social services work at St. Vincent de Paul, you can find Ana on a run, dancing like nobody’s watching, or sharing wacky stories about her childhood.
Advertisements

A Day in my Awesome and Inviable Life

By: Phyllis Kyei Mensah

This year has taught me so many values, skills and experiences that I would not have had anywhere else. The most important lesson I have learned so far is to not underestimate the impact of even the most minute of injustices on individuals and their families.

As a VVC, I split my weekdays between the Liz Carter and Winton Terrace Outreach Centers. On a typical Bank Street day, my tasks include enhancing the company’s image on social media and our website through promotional materials, working on print and communication materials for our events and drives, and soliciting donations for our events. Besides the new digital and design skills that this position has taught me, I have also grown to appreciate the diversity of my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, which give me something excited to look forward to.

On a ‘Winton Terrace’ day, you might find me waiting (quite impatiently) at the bus stop to catch the Cincinnati Metro Bus to the office. I find it both interesting and humbling to share this important ritual with people I neither know nor have any relationship with. This ritual invokes an unspoken bond between me and my neighbors who ride the bus and, through this bond, there is a refreshing and familial feeling of knowing where people get on and get off. A bond which gets me thinking about what’s going on in people’s lives when they don’t show up as they usually do at their regular bus stops, and what part of their lives are distracted and affected when the bus is late or never shows up.

A day at Winton Terrace is usually fun and full of activity. I usually get my weekly workouts going up and down those steep stairs. At this placement, I have had the opportunity get to know our neighbors better. What makes my day is when someone says “thank you so much, I really appreciate your help” after I have helped print and fax both legal and social service documents, school assignments, resumes, or helped fill out job applications or create new resumes for job interviews, or referred someone on the phone to the appropriate agency or contact person to get the help they need. I have also had the pleasure of seeing people move ahead on the social ladder – from being jobless, to having a job and a regular paycheck; from feeling too old to learn, to being regular students of our computer and GED classes; and from being hopeless and frustrated, to being happy and hopeful for the future. These tasks are very important to me because I am a firm believer of addressing poverty not only with handouts, but also structural and systemic long-term solutions.

VVC life outside the office has also been a personal journey of growth and adventure. I have had to try my hands on so many things I never used to do (well, board games are the exception because I just can’t wrap my head around them). I have evolved from being someone whose only workouts had just been frequent ‘walks in the Lord’, to a regular morning jogger. I could swim like a stone before VVC, but now, I can stay afloat for about 5 seconds with Jack’s expert help (Hey! That is a great achievement by my standards 😊). You might also find me practicing for the driver’s license test, which I’m not even planning get anytime soon (but hey, I can’t pass on another opportunity to bother other VVCs). Pulling out weeds from the VVC garden is also another ritual you might find me doing when I want to feel like the ‘TRUE’ organic farmer that I am😊. Habitually, however, you will find me reading some form of literature either on the back porch or in my room.

Phyllis

Phyllis Kyei Mensah is originally from Sunyani, Ghana. She has Master’s degrees in Political Science and African Studies from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and Oxford, UK respectively. Although short in stature, Phyllis makes up for it with her bold and sassy personality. She has a deep faith, loves all things intellectual, and has instilled a love of fried plantains in many of her community members during her time in VVC. Many times, you can find her around the house singing or humming gospel tunes.

A Day in the Life of Miss Carmen, the Fantastic

By: Carmen López Agredano

I remember that when I applied to be a VVC one of my main concerns was if in my job position I would be busy and if I would have responsibilities or I was going to become the girl that brings coffee.

Well, there is no one here who brings coffee – the work that I’m doing here keeps me so busy that there is no time for that. The reality is that I’m pretty busy.

Monday and Thursday mornings I do walk-ins which are some of the greatest moments of the week because gives me the opportunity to encounter our neighbors. It is a neat moment because you work with the people one on one, and at the end of the walk-ins I feel so much lighter and blessed.

Some Wednesday I do home visits for our Latino community. I’m the link between SVDP and our Spanish speaking clients. Also, because I am a native speaker I help at the pharmacy with translations, making posters with information for clients who suffer from diabetes… It’s amazing how quickly you start creating relationships!

Fridays afternoon I am at the Pantry doing intakes, it’s a great way to end the week!

The rest of my time I’m at my desk being a Conference Support. You might ask what is a Conference? Well… a Conference is a parish-based of volunteers who act as the Outreach Center but in a particular area.

I make sure that the Conferences have everything they need, help them with resources, and be the link with the Outreach Center! I review and approve the Homeless Prevention Program, a program to help our neighbors in the different Conferences to avoid homelessness by assisting them with rent or utility payments.

During this year, my professional skills have grown in a way that I couldn’t imagine!

Not only have I grown in a professional way, I have grown personally: it has been an amazing transformation. Living in community has been key in that transformation, sharing my faith journey, having conversations that matter, watching movies, going out for a walk…  Being from another country and living with people from the USA and other countries has enriched me so much! I’m always willing to celebrate some American holiday or to try some dish from Kenya!

You transform every single day; there is no day that I’ve been not learning something!

 

file-3Carmen López Agredano is originally from Algeciras, Spain. She has an artist’s heart, and sees the beauty in everyday life. When she is not trying to convince the rest of the VVC community about the supremacy of cats, she is doing something thoughtful for someone else, bringing the community together, or going on adventures.

A day in the Life of a Getting Ahead Coordinator / Client Advocate

By Sarah Ochieng

Sarah with doughnuts
Sarah serving treats at last year’s Thanksgiving Distributio

Client Advocate:

As a client advocate, my responsibilities include: participating in programs to support the work of the Social Services Department of SVDP, service delivery for people requesting assistance during walk-in hours and on home visits, and building helping relationships with people in need so that they recognize and utilize their personal strengths and resources in problem-solving.

Social Services

My time on Monday and Thursday mornings is spent with our neighbors.  I assist the social services department by providing basic needs assistance to our neighbors, including providing them with clothing, birth certificates, state ID vouchers, and public transportation tokens. During this time, I have the opportunity to engage with our neighbors on a personal level and get a deeper understanding of their living situations and life experiences.

On Thursday afternoon, I participate in rent and utility decision meetings, where client advocates, including myself, read through rent and utility applications and choose the top applications (based on need and sustainability). The next process includes presenting a client’s case and advocating the need for them to receive the assistance they applied for.

IMG_756

Getting Ahead Coordinator:

The 16-week Getting Ahead program helps individuals to build their personal sustainable action plans to get out of poverty. As a Getting Ahead coordinator, I support all program-related needs including: coordinating logistics, recruiting participants, facilitating training sessions, working with individual participants, training additional facilitators and mentors, creating an ongoing relationship with neighbors in need, supporting the work of our area Conferences, and developing opportunities for SVDP to address systemic change.

We currently have two ongoing Getting Ahead workshops. One group is held at St. Martin of Tours Church in Cheviot, Ohio and has a total of eight participants, while the other group (with a total of eleven participants) is held at Mt. Healthy Christian Church in Mt. Healthy, Ohio.

 

 

IMG_7565

 

Day of Workshop 

The Getting Ahead class begins at 11:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. Since the foundation of  Getting Ahead is co-investigation, both participants and facilitators are investigators. We investigate poverty from different perspectives and discuss how it affects our communities. We define poverty as the extent to which an individual does without resources.

IMG_7550

We view People in poverty not as the problem, but as problem solvers. Not as needy, but the needed. We need them to give us relevant information to fix poverty as they are the experts of their own community. Aside from the economic factors, we also consider other causes of poverty in our investigation. During this analysis, we find that poverty is not just about the financial inadequacies. It is much deeper!

Among other things, we also talk about bonding capital – those people that we hold closest to us – and analyze how we can use our bonding capital as resources to create a support system that can comfort us in times of need. Most importantly, we support and encourage one another.

IMG_7541

I cherish my role as a Getting Ahead coordinator as it gives me an opportunity to know my neighbors on a personal level and hear their perspectives on ways to improve the communities we live in. I also get to see them improve their situation and take action in their lives, create their future story by setting goals and working toward those goals. I have been able to form strong relationships with the investigators and have shared memories, laughter, and experiences.

 

A Day in the Life of A VVC Pantry Coordinator

By David Devlin

“What is today going to bring?” is a question I ask myself almost every day on my walk to the office in the morning. One of my favorite and least favorite things about my position as the pantry coordinator is that each day can look different. On multiple occasions have I come into the office with ideas about what I want to get done and then all of a sudden, next thing I know, I’m fixing a door, picking up toys in downtown Cincinnati, picking up 3 pallets of donated lettuce, or some other random odd job like that. At this point I’ve tried to stop planning out my day thoroughly because I’m sure something will come in and get me off of the task I’m working on, but instead just revel in the mystery that is my position sometimes. But in a way I depend on that. It’s that kind of randomness that helps me stay out of a rut and to stay on my toes and to avoid complacency in the work place. But the more regularly scheduled parts of my day including assisting managing the pantry and with the bed program. That includes helping to manage volunteers on days the pantry is open and on off days I help manage the logistics of pickups and storage for food that is purchased and donated.

But aside from the work that I’m doing and what that’s teaching me I’ve really learned a lot just from talking to people I encounter in the pantry. Back in the first half of my year, I was talking with someone who was going through the pantry and they said something along the lines of, “Man, I really appreciate what y’all are doing here. I ain’t got nothing at home right now. I got no food.” That conversation hit me pretty hard. I remember thinking that a day or two before I was looking in the fridge at our house trying to find dinner and I thought, “Man, there’s nothing to eat in this house.” But as soon as I finished saying that I pulled something out at ate dinner. Yeah it wasn’t a four-course, five-star meal but it gave me the energy I needed at the time. After that experience, I’ve been careful to complain about the amount of food that I have access to. I’ve never had to worry about when the next time to eat was going to be. I’ve always been able to eat when I needed to and I think that simple necessity is very easy to overlook.

Living in community has surrounded me with other people my age who are interested in change. A positive experience I’ve had recently was when we were discussing little ways to save water and be more conscious of our consumption of resources. As we were talking someone had mentioned a small action they noticed someone else doing. This was proof of a ripple effect that occurs when are do work for positive change. I’ve often got caught up in the overwhelming thought that I am just one person so it is not possible for me to encourage change. All it takes is one small action that someone else notices and then they practice and then someone else notices and now this small change you made is being carried on.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. I think it’s important to remember that. Change can happen when we do little things with a positive impact and someone else notices but also, when we notice things that others do and put that into our daily lives.

5 Myths About VVC

There are many misconceptions about doing a year of service. This post looks to dispel some of these myths about a year of service in general, and more specifically about VVC.

Myth #1: I won’t be able to pay student loans or other bills

Fact #1: For student loans, VVCs receive assistance to put their loans in deferment status for the duration of the program. In addition, VVCs are granted an Education Award (for ’17-’18, it was in the amount of $5,815) upon completion of the program to pay for past loans or future schooling. Mary Ellen, a 2nd-year volunteer writes, “I was not able to put that much money toward my student loans in an entry-level job right out of college, so this was a great benefit for me.”

In addition, all basic needs are covered by the program, including rent, utilities, health and renter’s insurance, as well as stipends for cell phones, transportation, and personal use.

Myth #2: I’m not Catholic, so I don’t belong in VVC.

Fact #2: While St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic organization, the VVC program is intentionally diverse. People of all faith backgrounds are encouraged to apply because the diversity of belief adds to the richness of community. We all have something to learn from each other. Phyllis, a current volunteer says,

 “I have never felt judged because of my denomination, which I am allowed to practice without any restrictions. When we all get together to discuss spirituality, we are bonded together by the universal principles of love, respect and service. These are the beliefs VVCs stand for.”

Myth #3: Intentional community seems too intense; I need to keep up with other relationships.

Fact #3: Intentional community certainly does not mean anyone is cut off from the outside world. Family members, significant others, and other friends are all vital relationships, and making time for those people is important. VVC does challenge you to make your community a priority, but that does not mean you are cut off from the other people in your life. David (VVC 2017-18) explains,

“You are going to have a life outside of community, and that’s understandable and ok. Intentional community is more about being intentional about the time you spend together, rather than spending all the time together.”

Myth #4: My role won’t be relevant. I will only be doing the work of an intern.

Fact #4: On the contrary, VVCs are an integral part of the staff at St. Vincent de Paul. They are tasked with contributing to major projects in a meaningful way, giving their honest opinions, and making real contributions toward the organization. Many alumni were granted their next step after the program year directly because of the professional work they did as a VVC.

Myth #5: As a Cincinnati resident, I don’t have anything new to learn from here.

Fact #5: A number of VVCs have had previous ties to the Cincinnati area, but that does not mean there is nothing left to gain from serving in a local program. Jack, a VVC, and lifelong Cincinnatian, writes,

“This year is unique to the previous parts of my life in Cincinnati, and gives me a new perspective from which to see my hometown and its people, because I am now an adult, out of school, and living intentionally in the West End community.”

To hear more of Jack’s thoughts on doing a year of service in his hometown, read his blog entry.

 

Hopefully, this was able to dismiss any myths you may have about VVC. To find out more, visit our website and like us on Facebook!

Different Neighborhood, Same City

By Jack Delisio

I was born and raised in Cincinnati and even went to college in my hometown as well. I decided to stay in Cincinnati for VVC mainly because I have an incredible family and community of support here already and I felt I was not ready to leave that behind for a different city. That being said, once I decided to do VVC, I was nervous about not having much left to learn about my hometown and the issues that people face here every day while experiencing poverty and other forms of oppression. I had even participated in an immersion retreat during college in Cincinnati focused on urban education, gentrification, and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. “What more could I possibly have to learn?” I thought. I feared that VVC would be a repeat of my previous experiences, presenting new material to those not from here but the same old stuff to me.

However, that has definitely not been the case. I have already learned so much and I expect to learn more and more as my year with VVC continues.

This year is unique to the previous parts of my life in Cincinnati, and gives me a new perspective from which to see my hometown and its people, because I am now an adult, out of school, and living intentionally in the West End community. I grew up in Westwood and lived in Norwood/Evanston while a student at Xavier University. These neighborhoods are both fairly ethnically and economically diverse, but my experiences there differ from this year. Now that I am an adult and out of school, my parents are no longer there to avert my eyes from suffering, my classroom walls are no longer there to “protect” and isolate me from my surrounding community, and the multitude of distractions available on a college campus are no longer at my fingertips.

This year, my neighborhood is my classroom and my neighbors my professors. For this whole year, I get the opportunity to be a student of the West End, learning from real people about their real lives and real stories. VVC offers me the chance to have a much more intimate, personal, and real-life encounter with my neighbors here in the West End and build relationships with these people, the vast majority of whom experience poverty and other forms of oppression. Walking around the neighborhood and to and from work every day, I cannot ignore or escape seeing the realities of people suffering in poverty and discrimination. And when I get home, I am not isolated and distant from my neighbors but I remain connected to them, because I have chosen to live counter-culturally and live in solidarity with my neighbors. I have chosen this year to live not just according to what I want and what makes me comfortable, but to live intentionally more in accordance with what my neighbors and I both need.

And there is SO MUCH to learn from the West End community. There is a great deal of important history and social justice issues to learn about just as they affect this small neighborhood. And there is even more to learn from becoming an intentional and active part of the West End, which VVC has given me the opportunity to do. By going to the same gym, attending the same community events, and walking the same streets as my neighbors, I receive a more in-depth, complex, and intimate relationship with my fellow West End residents. I can more clearly and personally see the dignity, potential, and gifts of my neighbors and the ability of communities to heal themselves. I can also see more clearly how big picture changes to the neighborhood, funding allocations, and city plans affect my neighbors, because they affect me, too. Through these experiences, I learn more and more every day that, regardless of whether or not someone is experiencing poverty or another form of oppression, I am completely and utterly equal to my neighbor. We do not always have the same life experiences, but we are surely equal in our value and dignity, because we live next door to one another.

These are choices that I have never made before. I am living a lifestyle I have never lived before. I am living in a neighborhood where I have never lived before. And because of all of that, I have a new perspective that I have never had before and I am constantly learning.

 

About the Author:

Jack Delisio is a Cincinnati native who loves Skyline Chili, the Reds, and goetta. Jack thrives on making connections with people, using weird voices, and learning from different people and cultures. On a given day, you can find Jack educating retreatants on issues of social justice as the Ozanam Center Coordinator, making curry, journaling, or going on adventures in the West End.

A Day in the life of the Social Service Client Advocate

Ana with 'Client'

I was discerning a Vincentian year of service for a while but I just didn’t know where. I honestly don’t know how this program ended up being the one I applied to, but I just couldn’t shake away the idea of it. I was so comfortable with my lifestyle that I knew I needed a change of perspective and this program seemed to fit perfectly with that desire. Although I felt called to serve in Cincinnati, I was still terrified- but as my twin sister always reminds me, God doesn’t call the prepared, He prepares the called and well, here I am!

Currently, I am working as a Client Advocate in the social services department of St. Vincent de Paul. Like all the departments at St. Vincent de Paul, the social services department wears many hats. Some of the services we offer include immediate assistance, such as writing vouchers for state I.D’s, birth certificates, and clothing and household items. Other times we serve our neighbors by assisting them with their monthly rent or utility bill. Apart from those services, we mainly serve as a friend; an ear to someone going through a tough time.

Here, a lot of our families are struggling with relationships and finances. My most important job is to be someone to listen to their story and then to offer to pray with/for them. It constantly amazes me how faithful my neighbors here are. One of St. Vincent de Paul’s main values is to see the face of Christ in all those we meet and my neighbors make that opportunity easy. They are often so joyful and uplifting and just FULL of Christ!

Throughout this position, I have had the opportunity to grow spiritually and professionally in ways that I didn’t know were possible. Spiritually, I have fallen more in love with God because of my neighbors. Their presence fills my cup daily. Sometimes I just smile when I am walking home from work because of how grateful I am for them. I honestly don’t know what else to say besides “thank you” to God for this program.

Professionally, I have also grown immensely. When I first found out what my job position was, I was terrified; I didn’t feel qualified or ready to experience any of it. However, through the support of my coworkers, community, and neighbors I can honestly say that for the first time ever I actually feel qualified! I feel as if I am taken seriously here and a part of a team full of caring individuals. I feel confident in my ministry and like a true professional and young-adult; it is refreshing.

Although I feel myself growing spiritually and professionally, I have definitely struggled in many ways. My favorite aspect of this year is the solidarity piece but, it is also where I have the hardest time. Solidarity is wonderful because it provides a perspective and feeling of unity and togetherness, but it is also temporary for me. I only have to experience this for a year, and while it is uncomfortable at times, I know it is going to end. I struggle with the idea that my neighbors don’t know when the tough times will be over and that there is a possibility that they will never get out of this cycle. All of these apprehensions propose the question of what do I do to remain intentional and in solidarity after this year? Well, I wish I had an answer right now but, I am still trying to figure that out.

The popular hymn “Here I am, Lord” always grounds me in times of anxiety, uneasiness, joy, and thankfulness through my ministry.  It also seems to guide me through all other aspects of my life this year. I especially love to reflect and pray the chorus, “Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.”

 

About  the Author

Ana Davila is a Niagara University graduate with a degree in developmental disabilities and a minor in religious studies.  In her spare time she loves to hike, camp, journal, and play with her dog. Ana is also a former Vincentian Lay Missionary where she spent a month in Kenya working alongside the Daughters of Charity.

 

The M.L.K Radicalism Our Society Needs (MLK Day Reflection)

Equality

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair, shall be crushed by the battering rams of the fires of justice.  Let us be dissatisfied until they – who live on the outskirts of hope – are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heap of history and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home…Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.  Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin.  Let us be dissatisfied.”[1]

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote and delivered this excerpt as part of his Where Do We Go from Here? speech in 1967.  Today, over 50 years later, there is still a lot to be dissatisfied with.  In this current age of mass incarceration, gentrification, and deportation, persons of color are still being targeted, exploited, and mistreated by our government – despite the official and legal end of segregated schools in 1954, there are still racial inequities within our educational system; despite the fact that blacks and whites use drugs at roughly equal rates, black people are incarcerated at the rate of more than five times to whites; and despite having similar qualifications (and often even higher qualifications) when compared to their white counterparts, black men and women are compensated significantly less for their work.

Today we are celebrating and honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on this day 89 years ago.  King is the only non-president with a national holiday, and many people recognize and admire him for his nonviolent and overall peaceful approach to combating racial injustice.  After all, the Civil Rights leader was arrested and jailed 29 times on trumped-up charges, stabbed and nearly killed years prior to his assassination, sent countless death threats, and terrorized with his family at their home – still, he persisted without inciting the use of violence as retaliation.  However, the King that is often illustrated today is no more than a fantasy created by the white imagination.  What we often forgot, but is incredibly important to recognize, is that there were two very different versions of Dr. King that existed – a peaceful King and a much more subversive King.

Today’s media and educational settings have heavily diluted the image of Dr. King, in order to make people feel comfortable with celebrating his legacy.  Many of us in the public only focus on the early work of Dr. King – the King who preached nonviolence, and the act of loving your enemies despite their hatred towards you.  But people often tend to negate Dr. King’s radicalness.  After 1963, his message changed drastically, and towards the end of his life, King expressed increasing frustration with the very slow rate of progress that was occurring in America.  This is the same King who said that the greatest purveyor of violence in the world was his own government; the same King who even warned America that it may go to Hell for all of its wrongdoings.

If all Dr. King is to be remembered for was his optimistic I Have a Dream speech, why did so many people oppose him at the time?  Why was the F.B.I monitoring and tracking his every move?  Why, then, did the government in 1963 consider King to be “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation”?[2]  The radicalness of Dr. King has simply vanished from today’s King narrative, but it is this more revolutionary King that is the most relevant to our modern society.  As I reflect on this day and on the selfless actions of Dr. King, I too strive to cultivate a “kind of dangerous unselfishness” that Dr. King once spoke of.  The most effective way of honoring Dr. King is by channeling his radicalism, to not only challenge but adamantly oppose the racist and sexist ideas that are so deeply ingrained in our society.  In this way, we can at least begin to move towards that dream society that is characterized by radical equality and equity.

 

[1] King, Martin Luther, and Coretta Scott King. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Beacon Press, 2010.

[2] https://www.npr.org/assets/news/2013/mlk-fbi-memo.pdf

About the author

Preeya Preeya  Waite is a passionate social justice advocate. She claims both Cincinnati and Philadelphia as home and loves to read, write and play basketball at her leisure.