Rev. Earle J. Fisher, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 4/6/2017, 11:31 a.m.
Practices, policies or pagentry?
Rev. Earle Fisher

I want to recommend that we move beyond the pageantry. If we want to honor King let’s do it through a robust revolution of values and a concrete commitment to social change.

For instance, we should not simply provide sanitation workers with adequate retirement packages. We should raise the wages of the city workers who make the least to at least $15 per hour. Let’s not pat ourselves on the backs with increases in the number of our police recruits. Let’s create an environment where we no longer camouflage political surveillance under the guise of protection and service.

Let’s look beyond the banquets, dinners, and even the demonstrations. Let’s commit to practices that value the least of these, invest in education beyond vouchers, disrupt the philanthropic industrial complex, and moves our faith communities to be active beyond the doldrums of Saturday and Sunday sanctuaries and into the street corners where real lives are being exploited and exterminated on a daily basis.

To be sure, I’ll be participating in the celebrations. Ceremony has its place. But my commitment lies far beyond the pageants. I want to practice what King practiced and not just preach what King preached. I want to participate in the work the brings about social justice and black liberation in a city that is still in need of it almost 50 years after King was killed while fighting for it.

(The Rev. Earle Fisher is senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church and co-spokesperson for the Memphis Grassroots Organizations Coalition.)