Pensacola, Florida
Saturday August 30th 2014

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Rant & Rave 1/20/11

HELP FOR BROWNSVILLE Because I know that Brownsville and West Pensacola are of interest to you, I wanted to be sure that you were aware of some projects that are in motion that will affect those areas.

Pathways For Change is in partnership with Area Housing to provide services and support at Morris Court housing complex. Pathways For Change will soon begin coordinating HIV/AIDS testing and education, family events, self-improvement classes and other activities and services at Morris Court. The launch of services is aimed at strengthening the Morris Court neighborhood and curbing negative issues such as poor education outcomes, health problems and crime. The start of services will precede the opening of several units in Morris Court as transitional housing for people who have completed a year or more of substance abuse treatment. Individuals living in the units will receive case management to ensure that they are employed or are in school, positively engaged in the community, and free of drugs and criminal activity.

The transitional housing project at Morris Court will coincide with the opening of the Clinton Cox Family Center not far from Morris Court at Pace Boulevard and Blount Street. The Family Center will provide a full palette of services to the surrounding neighborhood, including parenting education, Adult Basic Education, self-improvement classes, financial literacy training and recovery support. The Clinton Cox Family Center was a recipient of the Impact 100 grant in the Family category this past October, and that funding is covering building materials and supplies. The Family Center will open late in 2011.

—Lauren Anzaldo, MSW, Program Manager, Pathways For Change, Pensacola
GOOD YEAR FOR DOWNTOWN The year 2010 was certainly interesting with some positive and some negative events. One of the positive things we’ve noticed is a hopeful trend in the media’s perception of downtown.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Independent News wrote: “Winner: Downtown Improvement Board. Under their leadership, the Gallery Nights in downtown Pensacola have soared. The Nov. 19 Gallery Night was the best yet. Downtown Pensacola is coming back in a big way.”

In their January issue, The Downtown Crowd wrote: “…Downtown is a perfect place to dip your toe into the tantalizingly unknown world of new. If you’ve yet to visit any of the plethora of businesses that sprang up in the last bit of 2010…” and More to Come: “Downtown is keeping the ball rolling!”

On Jan. 2, 2011, the Pensacola News Journal wrote: “Palafox Street is alive and—dare we say it—even hip these days.”

We want to thank everybody who has been contributing to downtown’s new dynamics, being actively involved, and dedicating time and energy for this community. We look forward to working with you on taking Pensacola even further in 2011.

—Radim & Jeidy Smejkal, Art Praha Galerie, Pensacola
THE INVISIBLE KING You watch. Over the weekend and on Monday, the hallmarked memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be sanitized and blackwashed until he is no more than a sentimental husk hoping that little children of all races will one day be able to play together. Then you’ll see shots of just that, as if to indicate, well, thanks, that’s all done, nice historical figure. Bye. One of these years they will probably launch the USS Martin Luther King, Jr., a spanking new destroyer, or perhaps they will name a class of drone aircraft the MLK Ground Dominators.

But who was this King guy? What did he really stand for and how can we most accurately and sincerely honor his name and legacy?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a radical pacifist who used Gandhian nonviolence and then, with others in his movement, improved upon it. Gandhi was the Henry Ford of nonviolence, inventor of the mass liberatory action. Gatling may have industrialized warfare with his machine guns, Napoleon may have industrialized the human side with his levée en masse, but Gandhi industrialized strategic nonviolent civil society uprisings and Martin Luther King, Jr. improved on the model.

How did he and his folks do that?

First, they weren’t so sensitive to giving away their advantage once they had earned it. When Gandhi saw the British Empire stressed during various wars, he dialed back on the resistance. By contrast, in Nashville, during the sit-in movement in 1960, the students were shocked at five in the morning when their lawyer’s home was bombed and they immediately wired the mayor, demanding a meeting, pressing him that morning and gaining his admission that segregation was wrong and his pledge to work to end it. The Civil Rights Movement watched various windows open and generally shot straight through, not holding back for some gentleman’s courtesy, as Gandhi seemed to do.

And MLK was more consistent than Gandhi in some key ways. Although it took him a while to do so (several years after the frontline spokespeople such as Bob Moses), King denounced the war in Vietnam, whereas Gandhi volunteered to help the British or stood aside without objection during several wars. In what was both a stirring and powerful speech delivered in the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. said a great deal that mightily angered the federal government, from J. Edgar Hoover to Lyndon B. Johnson, including this:

“Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: ‘Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?’ ‘Why are you joining the voices of dissent?’ ‘Peace and civil rights don’t mix,’ they say. ‘Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,’ they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling.”

This is the Martin Luther King, Jr. who will be invisible in mainstream media as the U.S. celebrates the birth of a hero for racial reconciliation. But he was also a hero for peace and nonviolence, a man who died with a (peace and justice) felony on his record and yet is the only American for whom we celebrate a national holiday. Dr. King’s call for peace was powerful—the best speech of his life, in my view—but it will not be featured as we pretend to pay attention to the history of his life and contributions.

If he were alive today, he’d probably be in jail for resisting the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, or perhaps for resisting our client state, Israel’s, occupation of Palestine. At the least he would be reflecting on his evolved and holistic attempt to move to the next level of activism, past the termination of Jim Crow segregation and forward to ending poverty and stopping war. He never stopped evolving, but the mainstream historians have gone to the period five years before he was murdered and regard him as forever frozen there, just giving an “I Have a Dream” speech.

Dr. King deserves full honors; he was a fearless and brilliant campaigner for human rights, civil rights, economic justice and peace. Our young people need to know who he really was. We cannot pretend in honesty that he would support the wars and corporate bailouts featured in today’s America.

—Tom H. Hastings, Director of PeaceVoice, Portland, Ore.