Archives for category: Love

This is a beautiful story. It happened in New York City. A man was rushing to have dinner with his new friend when he saw what looked like a doll on the ground in the subway. It was wrapped in an old sweat shirt. But it wasn’t a doll, it was a baby who had been abandoned. You will enjoy reading this. You might even cry. It’s good to be reminded of the goodness in the world.

Recently Tom Ultican responded to something I posted on Twitter.

His response contained a typo.

He meant to write “Common Core Standards,” but mistakenly wrote “Common Care Standards.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our schools had “Common Care Standards,” in which we acknowledged our responsibility to care about students?

The standards might read like this:

All children shall have access to high quality preschool.

All children should have time to play every day, between classes and after school.

All children should have three nutritious meals every day.

All children should see a school nurse whenever they don’t feel well.

All children should be checked by a doctor and dentist annually.

All children should have access to a well-stocked library.

All children should have a safe place to live.

All children should have the arts as part of their daily schedule.

All children should have a school curriculum that includes not only reading and mathematics, but civics and history, science, literature, and foreign language.

Do you have anything to add to the Common Care Standards?

Today is a national holiday in which we remember the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate his legacy of justice, equality, and peace. To mark this date, I selected one of his memorable speeches. The Drum Major Instinct can lead one to be cruel, oppressive, greedy, and snobbish. But, rightly understood, it can lead one to serve others and to do good. This speech is appropriate for this moment in our national life. Like all classics, it fits the times and explains what we see before us.

Dr. King said on February 4, 1968:

This morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach: “The Drum Major Instinct.” “The Drum Major Instinct.” And our text for the morning is taken from a very familiar passage in the tenth chapter as recorded by Saint Mark. Beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of that chapter, we read these words: “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto him saying, ‘Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.’ And he said unto them, ‘What would ye that I should do for you?’ And they said unto him, ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.’ But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ And they said unto him, ‘We can.’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.’” And then Jesus goes on toward the end of that passage to say, “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”

The setting is clear. James and John are making a specific request of the master. They had dreamed, as most of the Hebrews dreamed, of a coming king of Israel who would set Jerusalem free and establish his kingdom on Mount Zion, and in righteousness rule the world. And they thought of Jesus as this kind of king. And they were thinking of that day when Jesus would reign supreme as this new king of Israel. And they were saying, “Now when you establish your kingdom, let one of us sit on the right hand and the other on the left hand of your throne.”

Now very quickly, we would automatically condemn James and John, and we would say they were selfish. Why would they make such a selfish request? But before we condemn them too quickly, let us look calmly and honestly at ourselves, and we will discover that we too have those same basic desires for recognition, for importance. That same desire for attention, that same desire to be first. Of course, the other disciples got mad with James and John, and you could understand why, but we must understand that we have some of the same James and John qualities. And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It’s a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life.

And so before we condemn them, let us see that we all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. Alfred Adler, the great psychoanalyst, contends that this is the dominant impulse. Sigmund Freud used to contend that sex was the dominant impulse, and Adler came with a new argument saying that this quest for recognition, this desire for attention, this desire for distinction is the basic impulse, the basic drive of human life, this drum major instinct.

And you know, we begin early to ask life to put us first. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. And all through childhood the drum major impulse or instinct is a major obsession. Children ask life to grant them first place. They are a little bundle of ego. And they have innately the drum major impulse or the drum major instinct.

Now in adult life, we still have it, and we really never get by it. We like to do something good. And you know, we like to be praised for it. Now if you don’t believe that, you just go on living life, and you will discover very soon that you like to be praised. Everybody likes it, as a matter of fact. And somehow this warm glow we feel when we are praised or when our name is in print is something of the vitamin A to our ego. Nobody is unhappy when they are praised, even if they know they don’t deserve it and even if they don’t believe it. The only unhappy people about praise is when that praise is going too much toward somebody else. (That’s right) But everybody likes to be praised because of this real drum major instinct.

Now the presence of the drum major instinct is why so many people are “joiners.” You know, there are some people who just join everything. And it’s really a quest for attention and recognition and importance. And they get names that give them that impression. So you get your groups, and they become the “Grand Patron,” and the little fellow who is henpecked at home needs a chance to be the “Most Worthy of the Most Worthy” of something. It is the drum major impulse and longing that runs the gamut of human life. And so we see it everywhere, this quest for recognition. And we join things, overjoin really, that we think that we will find that recognition in.

Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. (Make it plain) In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. (Yes) That’s the way the advertisers do it.

I got a letter the other day, and it was a new magazine coming out. And it opened up, “Dear Dr. King: As you know, you are on many mailing lists. And you are categorized as highly intelligent, progressive, a lover of the arts and the sciences, and I know you will want to read what I have to say.” Of course I did. After you said all of that and explained me so exactly, of course I wanted to read it. [laughter]

But very seriously, it goes through life; the drum major instinct is real. (Yes) And you know what else it causes to happen? It often causes us to live above our means. (Make it plain)It’s nothing but the drum major instinct. Do you ever see people buy cars that they can’t even begin to buy in terms of their income? (Amen) [laughter] You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. (Make it plain) But it feeds a repressed ego.

You know, economists tell us that your automobile should not cost more than half of your annual income. So if you make an income of five thousand dollars, your car shouldn’t cost more than about twenty-five hundred. That’s just good economics. And if it’s a family of two, and both members of the family make ten thousand dollars, they would have to make out with one car. That would be good economics, although it’s often inconvenient. But so often, haven’t you seen people making five thousand dollars a year and driving a car that costs six thousand? And they wonder why their ends never meet. [laughter] That’s a fact.

Now the economists also say that your house shouldn’t cost—if you’re buying a house, it shouldn’t cost more than twice your income. That’s based on the economy and how you would make ends meet. So, if you have an income of five thousand dollars, it’s kind of difficult in this society. But say it’s a family with an income of ten thousand dollars, the house shouldn’t cost much more than twenty thousand. Well, I’ve seen folk making ten thousand dollars, living in a forty- and fifty-thousand-dollar house. And you know they just barely make it. They get a check every month somewhere, and they owe all of that out before it comes in. Never have anything to put away for rainy days.

But now the problem is, it is the drum major instinct. And you know, you see people over and over again with the drum major instinct taking them over. And they just live their lives trying to outdo the Joneses. (Amen) They got to get this coat because this particular coat is a little better and a little better-looking than Mary’s coat. And I got to drive this car because it’s something about this car that makes my car a little better than my neighbor’s car. (Amen) I know a man who used to live in a thirty-five-thousand-dollar house. And other people started building thirty-five-thousand-dollar houses, so he built a seventy-five-thousand-dollar house. And then somebody else built a seventy-five-thousand-dollar house, and he built a hundred-thousand-dollar house. And I don’t know where he’s going to end up if he’s going to live his life trying to keep up with the Joneses.

There comes a time that the drum major instinct can become destructive. (Make it plain) And that’s where I want to move now. I want to move to the point of saying that if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct. For instance, if it isn’t harnessed, it causes one’s personality to become distorted. I guess that’s the most damaging aspect of it: what it does to the personality. If it isn’t harnessed, you will end up day in and day out trying to deal with your ego problem by boasting. Have you ever heard people that—you know, and I’m sure you’ve met them—that really become sickening because they just sit up all the time talking about themselves. (Amen) And they just boast and boast and boast, and that’s the person who has not harnessed the drum major instinct.

And then it does other things to the personality. It causes you to lie about who you know sometimes. (Amen, Make it plain) There are some people who are influence peddlers. And in their attempt to deal with the drum major instinct, they have to try to identify with the so-called big-name people. (Yeah, Make it plain) And if you’re not careful, they will make you think they know somebody that they don’t really know. (Amen) They know them well, they sip tea with them, and they this-and-that. That happens to people.

And the other thing is that it causes one to engage ultimately in activities that are merely used to get attention. Criminologists tell us that some people are driven to crime because of this drum major instinct. They don’t feel that they are getting enough attention through the normal channels of social behavior, and so they turn to anti-social behavior in order to get attention, in order to feel important. (Yeah) And so they get that gun, and before they know it they robbed a bank in a quest for recognition, in a quest for importance.

And then the final great tragedy of the distorted personality is the fact that when one fails to harness this instinct, (Glory to God) he ends up trying to push others down in order to push himself up. (Amen) And whenever you do that, you engage in some of the most vicious activities. You will spread evil, vicious, lying gossip on people, because you are trying to pull them down in order to push yourself up. (Make it plain) And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct.

Now the other problem is, when you don’t harness the drum major instinct—this uncontrolled aspect of it—is that it leads to snobbish exclusivism. It leads to snobbish exclusivism. (Make it plain) And you know, this is the danger of social clubs and fraternities—I’m in a fraternity; I’m in two or three—for sororities and all of these, I’m not talking against them. I’m saying it’s the danger. The danger is that they can become forces of classism and exclusivism where somehow you get a degree of satisfaction because you are in something exclusive. And that’s fulfilling something, you know—that I’m in this fraternity, and it’s the best fraternity in the world, and everybody can’t get in this fraternity. So it ends up, you know, a very exclusive kind of thing.

And you know, that can happen with the church; I know churches get in that bind sometimes. (Amen, Make it plain) I’ve been to churches, you know, and they say, “We have so many doctors, and so many school teachers, and so many lawyers, and so many businessmen in our church.” And that’s fine, because doctors need to go to church, and lawyers, and businessmen, teachers—they ought to be in church. But they say that—even the preacher sometimes will go all through that—they say that as if the other people don’t count. (Amen)

And the church is the one place where a doctor ought to forget that he’s a doctor. The church is the one place where a Ph.D. ought to forget that he’s a Ph.D. (Yes) The church is the one place that the school teacher ought to forget the degree she has behind her name. The church is the one place where the lawyer ought to forget that he’s a lawyer. And any church that violates the “whosoever will, let him come” doctrine is a dead, cold church, (Yes) and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.

When the church is true to its nature, (Whoo) it says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” (Yes) And it does not supposed to satisfy the perverted uses of the drum major instinct. It’s the one place where everybody should be the same, standing before a common master and savior. (Yes, sir) And a recognition grows out of this—that all men are brothers because they are children (Yes) of a common father.

The drum major instinct can lead to exclusivism in one’s thinking and can lead one to feel that because he has some training, he’s a little better than that person who doesn’t have it. Or because he has some economic security, that he’s a little better than that person who doesn’t have it. And that’s the uncontrolled, perverted use of the drum major instinct.

Now the other thing is, that it leads to tragic—and we’ve seen it happen so often—tragic race prejudice. Many who have written about this problem—Lillian Smith used to say it beautifully in some of her books. And she would say it to the point of getting men and women to see the source of the problem. Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior. A need that some people have to feel that they are first, and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first. (Make it plain, today, ‘cause I’m against it, so help me God) And they have said over and over again in ways that we see with our own eyes. In fact, not too long ago, a man down in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens Council. And so God being the charter member means that everybody who’s in that has a kind of divinity, a kind of superiority. And think of what has happened in history as a result of this perverted use of the drum major instinct. It has led to the most tragic prejudice, the most tragic expressions of man’s inhumanity to man.

The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I’m in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.”

Now that’s a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can’t hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out. (Amen)

And not only does this thing go into the racial struggle, it goes into the struggle between nations. And I would submit to you this morning that what is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy. And if something doesn’t happen to stop this trend, I’m sorely afraid that we won’t be here to talk about Jesus Christ and about God and about brotherhood too many more years. (Yeah) If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don’t let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds. (Amen) They have twenty-megaton bombs in Russia right now that can destroy a city as big as New York in three seconds, with everybody wiped away, and every building. And we can do the same thing to Russia and China.

But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. “I must be first.” “I must be supreme.” “Our nation must rule the world.” (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

But God has a way of even putting nations in their place. (Amen) The God that I worship has a way of saying, “Don’t play with me.” (Yes) He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, “Don’t play with me, Israel. Don’t play with me, Babylon. (Yes) Be still and know that I’m God. And if you don’t stop your reckless course, I’ll rise up and break the backbone of your power.” (Yes) And that can happen to America. (Yes) Every now and then I go back and read Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And when I come and look at America, I say to myself, the parallels are frightening. And we have perverted the drum major instinct.

But let me rush on to my conclusion, because I want you to see what Jesus was really saying. What was the answer that Jesus gave these men? It’s very interesting. One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned them. One would have thought that Jesus would have said, “You are out of your place. You are selfish. Why would you raise such a question?”

But that isn’t what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, “Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you’re going to be my disciple, you must be.” But he reordered priorities. And he said, “Yes, don’t give up this instinct. It’s a good instinct if you use it right. (Yes) It’s a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. (Amen) I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do.”

And he transformed the situation by giving a new definition of greatness. And you know how he said it? He said, “Now brethren, I can’t give you greatness. And really, I can’t make you first.” This is what Jesus said to James and John. “You must earn it. True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness. And the right hand and the left are not mine to give, they belong to those who are prepared.” (Amen)

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That’s a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.

I know a man—and I just want to talk about him a minute, and maybe you will discover who I’m talking about as I go down the way (Yeah) because he was a great one. And he just went about serving. He was born in an obscure village, (Yes, sir) the child of a poor peasant woman. And then he grew up in still another obscure village, where he worked as a carpenter until he was thirty years old. (Amen) Then for three years, he just got on his feet, and he was an itinerant preacher. And he went about doing some things. He didn’t have much. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. (Yes) He never owned a house. He never went to college. He never visited a big city. He never went two hundred miles from where he was born. He did none of the usual things that the world would associate with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. They called him a rabble-rouser. They called him a troublemaker. They said he was an agitator. (Glory to God) He practiced civil disobedience; he broke injunctions. And so he was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. And the irony of it all is that his friends turned him over to them. (Amen) One of his closest friends denied him. Another of his friends turned him over to his enemies. And while he was dying, the people who killed him gambled for his clothing, the only possession that he had in the world. (Lord help him) When he was dead he was buried in a borrowed tomb, through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today he stands as the most influential figure that ever entered human history. All of the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together (Yes) have not affected the life of man on this earth (Amen) as much as that one solitary life. His name may be a familiar one. (Jesus) But today I can hear them talking about him. Every now and then somebody says, “He’s King of Kings.” (Yes) And again I can hear somebody saying, “He’s Lord of Lords.” Somewhere else I can hear somebody saying, “In Christ there is no East nor West.” (Yes) And then they go on and talk about, “In Him there’s no North and South, but one great Fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide world.” He didn’t have anything. (Amen) He just went around serving and doing good.

This morning, you can be on his right hand and his left hand if you serve. (Amen) It’s the only way in.

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, “What is it that I would want said?” And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,
If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong,
Then my living will not be in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,
If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,
If I can spread the message as the master taught,
Then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.Source: 

MLKEC, Martin Luther King, Jr. Estate Collection, In Private Hands.

© Copyright Information

I watched this video several times. I am an animal lover. It made me happy. It will make you happy too!

Maria Popova is a voracious reader. She posts her reflections on literature, which she calls “Brain Pickings.” She reads widely and writes about whatever interests her. Her interests are broad.

In this post, she gathers the greatest love letters of all time among people of the same sex. She does this to honor what is known as Pride Month.

Here you will find love letters by Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, and more.

June has been auspicious for LGBT people. In June 2013, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down federal laws that prevented the recognition of gay marriage in a case called United States v. Windsor. Edie Windsor, a technology manager at IBM, lived with Thea Spyer for 40 years and cared for her as Thea’s health declined. They married in Canada in 2007. Thea died less than two years later.

The federal government proceeded to tax Thea’s estate, which she left to Edie, as if they were strangers. Edie owed the IRS almost $400,000. She fought the federal tax collectors to win recognition of the legitimacy of her marriage to Thea. She won in the lower courts and in the Supreme Court, clearing the way for gay marriage for others. Subsequently, she reveled in her role as a gay icon, leading parades and celebrations. Edie Windsor died in 2017 at the age of 88.

In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that discrimination in the workplace based on LGBT status was sex discrimination and therefore prohibited. Surprisingly, the decision was written by Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.

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With Edie Windsor, August 2013

This is a story of a community organizer, Monica Cannon-Grant, who has used her character, determination, and passion to create a force on behalf of the black community of Boston. She is relentless. She demonstrates the power of one person to make change. She makes real the quote attributed to Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Monica Cannon-Grant began her day on Thursday as she begins most days: grocery shopping for 1,700 people.

Wearing a black T-shirt printed with the words “I can’t breathe,” she lifted barrels of mayonnaise and enormous tins of tuna into her Restaurant Depot cart.

“Today is the first memorial for George Floyd,” she said quietly as she rolled the cart down the aisle.

She has not had much time to grieve lately, or even to rest.

Cannon-Grant, who is 39 and lives in Roxbury, organized the Tuesday march in Franklin Park that drew tens of thousands of people to protest police brutality and demand action in Boston. Though it followed on the heels of a protest that ended in violence downtown, she made clear that her march, which started with a “die-in” at Blue Hill Avenue, would be peaceful. And it was.

Cannon-Grant, who is at turns a firecracker and a mother bear, has also been distributing about 1,750 free meals a day, through the restaurant Food for the Soul in Dorchester, to people in the neighborhood who have struggled since the coronavirus hit. She is the mother of six children, two of whom she adopted as teenagers.

“Anything that goes down in the community, positive or negative, it almost has to go through Monica,” said Chris Lewis, a fellow activist who has known Cannon-Grant since they were children.

The two threads of Cannon-Grant’s work last week—feeding hundreds of people while at the same time agitating for specific policy prescriptions to end police brutality—help illustrate her overarching vision for change in the city. She has been inspired by the legacy of the Black Panther movement, she said, which challenged police violence while running massive “survival programs,” such as free breakfasts for school children that paved the way for the government’s free breakfast program.

Cannon-Grant’s focus, she and others said, is making sure the Black community in Boston can protect and serve itself.

“I studied a lot of the work that they did and how they were able to uplift and take care of their own communities,” Cannon-Grant said, sitting outside Food for the Soul as volunteers prepared free lunches inside. “My hope is to embody the Black Panther movement.”

In that spirit, Cannon-Grant hired her own security to keep the peace during the march in Franklin Park.

“I don’t have a relationship with the police department, and honestly I can’t depend on them to protect me. So I started reaching out to men in the community,” Cannon-Grant said. She offered them $100 to look out for instigators of violence and to de-escalate interactions with the police, which they did. In the end, around 50 Black men from the neighborhoods where the march took place acted as eyes and ears during it. They declined to be paid, she said.

Large numbers of people tend to follow her lead, said Donnell Singleton, the owner of Food for the Soul, who has worked with Cannon-Grant for years.

“Here’s Monica, with a sea of people behind her,” Singleton said of seeing her at Franklin Park on Tuesday.

Cannon-Grant has long been a thorn in the side of city and state politicians, urging them to take action to prevent violence against Black and brown people in Boston. She grew up in the Franklin Hill neighborhood of Dorchester, and attended the Jeremiah E. Burke High School.

It was wrong, she thought, that some politicians celebrated an overall reduction of violence in Boston, even as it continued in poor and majority-Black neighborhoods. After her teenage son twice had a gun pulled on him outside the family’s home, she decided enough was enough. She started attending every public safety meeting the city had, insistently pressing politicians on her central concern.

“They’re like, ‘Oh we’re doing great,’” she said. “So explain to me why my street is shot up 15 times and my son had a gun pulled on him twice? Why is this normal?”

Assisted by a source she won’t divulge, she began posting almost every shooting or stabbing that took place in the city on her Facebook page with the hashtag #ViolenceinBoston in 2017. That also became the name of the nonprofit she launched that year, to provide direct resources like food and housing to Black and brown victims of violence in Boston.

If she didn’t post quickly enough, bystanders or those involved in shootings would send her Facebook messages to let her know what happened. “Shots fired outside my house … 2 shots in my driveway,” read one message she received last month.

“There’s been many a night, late at night, that I get a call from Monica and there’s a crime scene that she’s telling me to meet her at,” said former city councilor Tito Jackson, one of Cannon-Grant’s mentors and close friends.

As someone without a college degree or institutional affiliations, Cannon-Grant and her peers felt she was often dismissed by elected officials and others in power as not having much to add. And so she took to inviting herself, being so persistent and sometimes disruptive that she couldn’t really be ignored.

Beginning in 2018, she launched a nearly yearlong campaign to get Mayor Martin J. Walsh to meet with her. She called him out on Twitter and blasted him on Facebook Live videos; in a typical post from October 2018, she wrote, “Today makes 99 days since Mayor Marty Walsh called my cell phone agreeing to meet with me. Last night Boston’s 47th Homicide…He loves press conferences to give the perception he’s doing something but he’s not.” She was particularly outraged by comments he made in July 2018 addressing shooting victims in Dorchester, which she thought blamed them for the violence they suffered.

“If you want to kill each other — it’s a horrible thing and I don’t want to stand here as mayor and say, ‘You know, we’re justifying that’ — you kill each other,” Walsh said at the time.

Finally, after what Cannon-Grant described as “256 days of advocacy,” Walsh met with her. Sharing a plain bagel at Soleil, they cut right to the chase.

“Can you stop calling me a motherf*****?” Cannon-Grant recalled Walsh asking at the beginning of the meeting.

“I said, ‘Sure, I need you to also stop getting in the media, talking about Black men in the community as if you actually understand what it is to be a Black man.’”

Then the two had an honest conversation, both said in interviews, one that opened up an avenue for them to work together. Walsh said he had made comments out of frustration and concern at seeing people dying day after day.

“And I told him I feel the same way and since then, we’re aligned in our frustration,” Cannon-Grant said. “You’re supposed to disagree, you’re supposed to have conversations and then figure out how you could work together.”

The mayor has since directed funding and resources to Violence in Boston, as well as the Food for the Soul project.

“We certainly weren’t mortal enemies, but there was definitely a lot of conflict there and barriers to communication,” Walsh said in an interview. “And that hour — maybe a little longer — broke down those barriers.”

The story of her evolving relationship with Walsh over the past two years is also the story of her own changing role in the city, from that of a marginalized activist beating down the walls of those in power, into someone who wields significant power and influence on behalf of her community.

“A lot of what she was acting out on at first was her own pain,” said Thaddeus Miles, director of community services at MassHousing. Now, he said, “She’s more strategic around her thought and she’s worked with her allies in a different way.”

As a sign of her growing stature both in the city and beyond, she hosted a town hall last week that featured Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Ayanna Pressley, and Emerald Garner, a daughter of Eric Garner, a Black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer in New York. The group discussed how to pass federal legislation mirroring state legislation targeting police brutality, including a California law banning the use of deadly force by police if there is a reasonable alternative, and a New York bill requiring that police provide medical help to those in custody who request it.

Cannon-Grant ran for state representative in 2016 and lost. Then in 2017, she organized the Fight Supremacy rally on the Boston Common the week after a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va. Politicians and even other activists at the time worried that it wasn’t a good idea, Miles said — that she didn’t have the organization to pull it off. They feared it would disintegrate into a violent clash between white supremacists and protesters.

That didn’t happen. Instead, she drew tens of thousands of people to the Boston Common for a peaceful march.

“People started to take her seriously,” said Miles.

But even with increased recognition, Cannon-Grant continues to agitate when she deems it necessary.

In one notable example from 2019, she interrupted a panel featuring Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. The panel was meant to assess how Massachusetts had achieved such a low rate of deaths from guns.

“I’m sorry but there are Black and brown folks sitting in this room that I brought with me who are victims of gun violence in Black communities that get ignored every day,” Cannon-Grant said from the darkened audience. “No disrespect, but we were screaming way before Parkland.”

She then brought her own chair onto the stage, filled mostly with white men in suits, and began taking questions from the audience.

Anne Grammer, the 82-year-old cofounder of Cape Cod Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, was so moved by Cannon-Grant’s words that, a few weeks afterward, she drove to Cannon-Grant’s house and offered to volunteer for her.

“Anything she asked me to do, I will do,” Grammer said.

Cannon-Grant credits her fighting spirit to her grandmother, who worked the polls and was the head of her tenant association in Boston for many years.

“My grandmother was a fighter,” Cannon-Grant said, laughing. “She would invite the city councilors to the cookout to curse them out about what they didn’t do for the community.”

That’s how onlookers describe Cannon-Grant, too.

“You’re definitely not going to control her,” said Jackson, “and you’re not going to contain her, either.”

The following assemblage of citations from Dr. King’s life was prepared by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.


Nonviolence

As a theologian, Martin Luther King reflected often on his understanding of nonviolence. He described his own “pilgrimage to nonviolence” in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom, and in subsequent books and articles. “True pacifism,” or “nonviolent resistance,” King wrote, is “a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love” (King, Stride, 80). Both “morally and practically” committed to nonviolence, King believed that “the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom” (King, Stride, 79; Papers 5:422).

King was first introduced to the concept of nonviolence when he read Henry David Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience as a freshman at Morehouse College. Having grown up in Atlanta and witnessed segregation and racism every day, King was “fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system” (King, Stride, 73).

In 1950, as a student at Crozer Theological Seminary, King heard a talk by Dr. Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University. Dr. Johnson, who had recently traveled to India, spoke about the life and teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi. Gandhi, King later wrote, was the first person to transform Christian love into a powerful force for social change. Gandhi’s stress on love and nonviolence gave King “the method for social reform that I had been seeking” (King, Stride, 79).

While intellectually committed to nonviolence, King did not experience the power of nonviolent direct action first-hand until the start of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. During the boycott, King personally enacted Gandhian principles. With guidance from black pacifist Bayard Rustin and Glenn Smiley of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, King eventually decided not to use armed bodyguards despite threats on his life, and reacted to violent experiences, such as the bombing of his home, with compassion. Through the practical experience of leading nonviolent protest, King came to understand how nonviolence could become a way of life, applicable to all situations. King called the principle of nonviolent resistance the “guiding light of our movement. Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method” (Papers 5:423).

King’s notion of nonviolence had six key principles. First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence. Second, nonviolence seeks to win the “friendship and understanding” of the opponent, not to humiliate him (King, Stride, 84). Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed. Fourth, those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive. Fifth, nonviolent resistance avoids “external physical violence” and “internal violence of spirit” as well: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him” (King, Stride, 85). The resister should be motivated by love in the sense of the Greek word agape, which means “understanding,” or “redeeming good will for all men” (King, Stride, 86). The sixth principle is that the nonviolent resister must have a “deep faith in the future,” stemming from the conviction that “The universe is on the side of justice” (King, Stride, 88).

During the years after the bus boycott, King grew increasingly committed to nonviolence. An India trip in 1959 helped him connect more intimately with Gandhi’s legacy. King began to advocate nonviolence not just in a national sphere, but internationally as well: “the potential destructiveness of modern weapons” convinced King that “the choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence” (Papers 5:424).

After Black Power advocates such as Stokely Carmichael began to reject nonviolence, King lamented that some African Americans had lost hope, and reaffirmed his own commitment to nonviolence: “Occasionally in life one develops a conviction so precious and meaningful that he will stand on it till the end. This is what I have found in nonviolence” (King, Where, 63–64). He wrote in his 1967 book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?: “We maintained the hope while transforming the hate of traditional revolutions into positive nonviolent power. As long as the hope was fulfilled there was little questioning of nonviolence. But when the hopes were blasted, when people came to see that in spite of progress their conditions were still insufferable … despair began to set in” (King, Where, 45). Arguing that violent revolution was impractical in the context of a multiracial society, he concluded: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. The beauty of nonviolence is that in its own way and in its own time it seeks to break the chain reaction of evil” (King, Where, 62–63).

Footnotes

King, “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” 13 April 1960, in Papers 5:419–425.

King, Stride Toward Freedom, 1958.

King, Where Do We Go from Here, 1967.

This entry is part of the following collection

Martin Luther King, Jr. – Political and Social Views
Martin Luther King, Jr. – Travels
Montgomery Bus Boycott

Nonviolence

Related Events

King begins freshman year at Morehouse
King hears Mordecai Johnson preach on Gandhi
Montgomery bus boycott begins
Bayard Rustin visits Montgomery
King discusses nonviolence with Bayard Rustin
Glenn Smiley interviews King in Montgomery
“Stride Toward Freedom” officially released; King signs copies at Harlem’s Empire Baptist Bookstore
The Kings and Lawrence Dunbar Reddick depart for India and Middle East
King’s “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence” published in Christian Century

The blog started today with an account of the paltry amounts of money that our leading edu-philanthropists are contributing to alleviate the suffering of students and families during this crisis and to help public schools through the crisis.

By contrast, some principals and teachers in the Oakland Education Association have agreed to give half or all of their stimulus checks to the families of undocumented workers, who will receive nothing. In proportion to their wealth, the teachers and principals are about a million times more generous than the billionaires.

The educators at the Oakland Unified School District launched the Stimulus Pledge campaign Thursday in response to the enormous stress and despair they say they are witnessing among immigrant parents who have lost all income under shelter-in-place orders, but are left out of unemployment insurance and many other benefits.

“We are in contact with our families every day and what we are hearing is heartbreaking,” said Anita Iverson-Comelo, a principal at Bridges Academy at Melrose, in East Oakland. “We feel like we have to do something.”

At least eight teachers at Bridges Academy, including some making less than $50,000 per year, have pledged all or part of their stimulus checks, said Iverson-Comelo. She and six other principals, whose higher salaries might disqualify them from the coronavirus federal cash aid, also plan to donate.

Many families have no income at all and rely for food on the district’s “grab and go” food program. They sure could use some help from Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Reed Hastings or Jeff Bezos.

Speaking of billionaires, Robert Reich said on Twitter that Jeff Bezos has increased his net worth by $24 billion during the crisis but still won’t give Amazon workers paid sick leave.

Feeding the hungry is not on the billionaires’ agenda. It’s not innovative. It’s not a game-changer.

It’s an act of love.

A teacher in South Dakota writes here about her love of teaching, her love of her students, and how she is handling the current crisis.

She writes:

Let me preface this by saying that I am passionate about education. I enjoy being a student, and I love being a teacher. Of all of the things that I joke about in life, my job as a teacher is taken very seriously. Also, I love my students. LOVE THEM. Would-bring-them-all-home-with-me-without-calling-my-husband-first kind of love.

Right now, I can’t sleep at night. I have this turmoil built up inside of me that physically hurts. If you are a teacher who can say with 100% certainty that you are not worried about any of your students or their ability to do learning from a distance, then you are blessed and this isn’t about you. I am not that lucky. I didn’t really feel like going out and gathering numbers but just knowing what I know, I have to assume that there aren’t many teachers out there who can say with 100% certainty that their students are just as fine at home as they would be at school.

You have to love the zealousness of teachers across the nation right now. Admire it. Be inspired by it! Governors across the country said, “We are going to close the schools.” And teachers said, “Have no fear! We have never done anything like this and no one has any idea what they are doing, but we got this!” But, why? I haven’t heard any direction from Dept. of Ed on the national or state level which is why every single school has been left to navigate this on their own. There is no consistency between schools. The ENTIRE country is in the same exact boat, so how can anyone possibly expect us to be held to the same standard of teaching and expectation of time as if school was in session? Teachers are just supposed to naturally sacrifice themselves in a time of crisis? Do we really feel like we have to validate the paycheck that badly? Asking our families to adjust to us doing our jobs from home has been one wild experience for me, personally. Requiring teachers to report to their buildings during regular contract hours is ridiculous and kind of defeats the purpose of closing the school buildings. As far as I know, teachers are not immune to COVID. (Would be cool though, huh? Add that to our tool belt of superpowers!) Now, I am not saying we sit around and do nothing and treat this like a vacation. But lesson plans? Standards? Taking grades? It shouldn’t even be part of the discussion right now.

One little word. Equity. I can not even touch on any other topic without coming face to face with that word. Packets, online discussions, chats, phone calls, videos, all the bells and whistles… doesn’t matter. Nothing that you do outside of your classroom can be considered equitable. You can not require work to be sent back for grades and you can not expect new learning to take place. At best, you can hope that our students simply retain the things they have already learned. Distance learning in this specific situation is not an equal opportunity for every single one of our students. No one signed up for this and no one was prepared for it. (Also, side note, I am not a scientist but are we sure sending packets back and forth is really the smartest idea??)…

I am blessed to teach in a student-centered district that isn’t requiring anything outlandish, so really I could just sit down and shut up and not worry about it. But so many teachers and students that I love have unreasonable expectations strapped to their backs right now. Do what you feel you have to do to appease your administrator, but please stop stressing yourself out over something that really doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things and fight for those students that need you! This is scary. People are sick and dying. I am not worried about standards and actually teaching right now. I am worried about my fellow teachers, my students, and their families as humans! I hope they are safe and warm and being loved. The best thing that I can wish for is to see all of my students again and to see their smiling faces because their families are still intact.

Joel Westheimer has advice for parents who are at home organizing their children’s days.


FORGET THE WORKSHEETS AND TRYING TO REPLICATE SCHOOL

I am really struck by the variety of media inquiries I’ve been getting about the impacts of Covid-19 on education, what parents should be doing at home, and so on. The interest doesn’t surprise me (I am an education columnist on public radio), but the preoccupation with whether kids will “fall behind” or with how they will “catch up” has. I see hundreds of stories, websites, and YouTube videos that aim to help parents create miniature classrooms at home. Maybe some parents have folding chairs they can bring up from the basement and put in rows. Where’s that big blackboard we used to have? Is there a run on chalk at Costco?

Stop worrying about the vague and evidence-less idea of children “falling behind” or “catching up.” This is a world-wide pause in life-as-usual. We’ve spent the last 25 years over-scheduling kids, over-testing kids, putting undue pressure on them to achieve more and more and play less and less. The result? Several generations of children and young adults who are stressed-out, medicated, alienated, and depressed.

This is not a time for worksheets. This is an opportunity (for those of us lucky enough to be at home and not in hospitals or driving buses or keeping our grocery store shelves stocked) to spend meaningful time with our children to the extent it is possible in any given family. Parents shouldn’t be thinking about how to keep their kids caught up with the curriculum or about how they can recreate school at home or how many worksheets they should have their children complete. They should bake a cake together. Make soup. Grow something in the garden. Take up family music playing. And neither school personnel nor parents should be focusing on how quickly or slowly children will return to school because none of us know We should be focusing on ensuring that teachers are afforded the conditions they need to best support their students — now when school is out and later when school is back in.

Remember that ditty about the two Chinese brush-strokes that comprise the word ‘crisis’? One is the character for ‘danger’ and the other the character for ‘opportunity.’ We are more and more aware of the danger. But we’re missing out on the opportunity: to spend time as families (in whatever form that family takes in your household).

This brings me back to the questions I keep getting. What are my recommendations for what to do with your children at home when they are missing so much school? Stop the homework (unless you and your children are enjoying it).Stop the worksheets. Stop trying to turn your kitchen into Jaime Escalante’s A.P. math class. But do help your children structure their day. Help them process what is going on around them. Help them engage in activities that do not take place on a screen. Help them maintain physical activities whether that means running around the block, running up and down the stairs, or running around the kitchen.Help them be creative. Give them — to the extent possible in your household — the gift of time and attention.

And when brick-and-mortar school (hopefully) returns next Fall, let’s give teachers a great deal of latitude in what, how, and when to teach any particular subject matter. Their primary job should be to restore a sense of safety, nurture a sense of possibility, and rebuild the community lost through extended social isolation.

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Joel Westheimer is University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa and an education columnist for CBC’s Ottawa Morning and Ontario Today shows. His most recent book is “What Kind of Citizen: Educating Our Children for the Common Good.” You can follow him on Twitter: @joelwestheimer.