Two Mondays from now will be extra special for a couple of reasons . One is the featured speaker at the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration Lynda Blackmon Lowery who was the youngest person at 15 to make the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
I am looking forward to Lowery’s talk entitled “History: Past, Present and Future about how Dr. King brought history into her life at the age of 13 with three powerful words ‘Steady, Loving, Confrontation‘ and how those three words have a powerful impact on our present and will forever let us and her walk boldly into our future, changing lives and laws as we go.”
There will also be three awards given: One to Tracy Littlejohn, a 2007 UWL graduate and current co-adviser of the university’s Native American Student Association who will receive the community’s 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award, the second,one by Ms Lowery to an area high school student for outstanding leadership and the third, a new award this year called The Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy award. Spoiler alert this long time activist also lives in the End of the Rainbow Valley…
The Legacy award was inspired from MLK Jr.’s ’68 speech in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Church about the ‘drum major instinct’King talked about cultivating the right relationship to the “drum major instinct” with the right relationship we possess, leading and serving, not to be first in praise, but rather to be, “first in love.” “King’s drum majors are planners — contributing a lifetime of study, reading and creative, critical thinking so an event or organization can be most effective. They are cheerleaders, beating the organizing, motivating drum. They are participants, encouraging others to listen to their own hearts and act from love. The award is not merely about an individual’s countable accomplishments. Rather, it is about acknowledging the essential drum majors leading efforts to do the right thing even if it’s uncomfortable, unreasonable or impossible.”
The photo to the right is in the historic collection in the U of Minnesota Alumni Center. The guy on the right is my Natureman as a senior on the U of Minnesota on May 4th, 1970 during an anti war movement calling for a strike against the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. It was also during that day when 4 students were killed at Kent State by the National Guard.
A long time friend, Lynn, instigated Natureman’s nomination and contacted numerous people he had worked with over the years in combating social injustice. His friend Guy composed the main nomination letter and the other letters of support were combined to compose an 8 page nomination letter.
This Twin City born individual came to the Coulee Region ~ 45 years ago with the Back to the Land Movement to live lightly off the earth, to grow his own food, learn about food foraging and preservation, cheese making, bee keeping, goat and chicken raising and heating with wood.
Activism is a way of life for this guy and it also filled his life by helping to organize: student to student counseling in Minneapolis Public Schools, parents involvement in Head Start, giving input for the Duluth Project, a male batterer’s domestic abuse curriculum, bio regional gatherings, supporting others in the occupation of the Lady Smith Flambeau Copper Sulfide Mine.
In recent years he has helped communities oppose a CAPX2020 transmission line and also dangerous BNSF oil trains, CAFO farms, etc… collecting monies for Standing Rock clothing and supplies in addition to numerous protest marches re: Climate, Science, Sand Mining, Unions, Women, Refugee Support and Islamophobia.
No doubt I’ve omitted some but the nomination committee’s picture was clear that any movement is dependent on not just one leader but many participants helping to beat the drum… All of us have the power to do something no matter where we live whether it’s donating time or monies, a call, a signature, a letter to Congress/even a protest march.
CONGRATULATIONS to all the foot soldiers working to make this world a better place and to my Natureman for making social consciousness his way of life.
May Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy be passed on to the next generation…
Most cities have a celebration and whether you go alone, with a friend/ family, you will be reminded you are an important part of the legacy. Join your community as today as 50 years ago was a tipping point…
*The MLK Jr. celebration in La Crosse will be held Monday, Jan. 20 at 7pm at Viterbo University’s Fine Art Center. Tickets are free and handed out when you are in line. Donations for La Crosse’s local Food Pantry will be greatly appreciated .