Organizers of a Grand Rapids laughter festival say they’ve set a new Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing false mustaches and say 1,544 people did so Thursday evening.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
About Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. King has become a national icon in the history of modern American liberalism.
A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. King’s efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he expanded American values to include the vision of a color blind society, and established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.
In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986.
By JR, Special for Diversity News Magazine
It was a historical night on Monday, September 19, 2011 when around 1:30am (early Tuesday morning) West Hollywood voted unanimously to be the first city in the world to become “Fur Free.”
Business owners, residents and people from other cities spoke out about the ordinance that bans the sale of fur. Although the city authorities have to refine the ordinance, it will be good to go within in the coming weeks.
Animal advocates and supporters celebrated the moment with cheers, high fives, smiles and hugs. The ban is the first of it’s kind in the nation, prohibiting the sales of fur clothing. For now, the sales of fur accessories and leather items are still allowed.
During the meeting, around 60 people stepped up to the podium to speak. Attorney Steven J. Bernheim said, “Free consumer choice has limits. For example, you can no longer be able to order foie gras, because it’s been deemed too cruel. For example, you can’t watch cock fighting any longer. Those are the reasons why you should pass this ordinance.” Jean Dobrin, a 36 year resident of West Hollywood said she was “horrified” by the selling of fur and went on to say, “Stella, the daughter of Paul McCartney won’t sell one speck of fur in her store. If I told you the method of killing these animals, you would be revolted.” She continued, “When I learned 20 years ago that they kill foxes by inserting an electrical charge in their anus, how would you like that? “
On the opposing side, Ester Ban made a good point, “No one has mentioned leather shoes, leather bags. Why not? They just don’t like fur.” She went on to say, “I don’t tell you what to wear, I don’t think you should tell me or the rest of the citizens to wear” She said that she didn’t believe that animals were killed inhumanly. She said it was “stupid” and just a “tactic trying to scare people like a horror film.” Hecklers from the opposing view clapped in support and were heard saying “lies, it’s all staged, they don’t do the to animals.” A few times during the heated discussion, the gavel rang out to keep the session in order.
Matt Rosell stated he went undercover for 4 months at a fox farm in Illinois and assured the audience that he saw “500 killed by anal electrocution.” He said “The public has a right to know what really happens to these animals. The fur industry is only able to sell these products by not sharing these facts.” Mary Cummins, president of animal advocates who rescues wildlife, stated that she had an “educational raccoon” that she almost brought to the meeting who loves to play with dog toys and watches tv. She pleaded, “I can assure you that they feel pain and sadness just like our cats and dogs. An animal is a living, breathing being. “
Retailers expressed their concerns stating that they could “lose 15% or more” of their revenue. To this, hit recording artist Fawn responded in a matter of fact tone, “Banning smoking in restaurants, has not stopped people from going to restaurants. 15% is not that big of a loss, compared to the loss of a life. There are plenty of alternatives that look like real fur.” She continued to say “I’m part of the entertainment industry, where fashion is at the fore front. Fashion is important for what I do. If West Hollywood continues to sell fur products, I will not shop here any more.” Fawn commented on the fact that President Obama would be visiting West Hollywood this coming Monday, and pointed out, “The First Lady Michelle Obama, refuses to wear fur.” Fawn proclaimed that “fear” was leading people to oppose the ban and used Rosa Parks as an example of overcoming fear. She asserted, “When Rosa Parks said no to the back of the bus, she was afraid, but stood up because it was the right thing to do. The thing about it is we have a choice. I ask that we make the right choice for humanity. West Hollywood leads, it doesn’t follow.”
Shannon Keith, Animal Rights attorney and award-winning producer of “Skin Trade,” affirmed, “I have seen undercover footage of what goes on, on fur farms” She said she went “door to door” to speak to business owners in West Hollywood and when they were shown the footage, they actually took the fur products off their shelves themselves.” She continued to say, “People are concerned about their sales, but what concerns us it the right not to torture animals.”
Ellen Lavinthal, one of the leaders of Fur Free West Hollywood said “It’s just the beginning of what’s to come in the humane treatment of animals and how we view fashion.”
Ed Buck, another leader of Fur Free West Hollywood stated, “West Hollywood is just more than this city, we are a beacon – the city on the hill and when we do something here, it does reverberate around the country and around the world. This is a reverberation that will be felt around the world.”
About Fur Free Weho Campaign:
Each year more than 50 million animals are killed for fur, whether raised in factory farm-like conditions or trapped in the wild. Recent investigations also show domestic dogs and cats are killed for fur, especially fur trim on garments imported from China, often improperly labeled “faux.” Last month, President Obama signed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act to require all real animal fur to be correctly labeled.
In 1989, West Hollywood passed Resolution Number 558 proclaiming the city a “Cruelty Free Zone for Animals.” The fur-free WeHo campaign makes good on the city’s promise.
“West Hollywood has the opportunity to once again be a leader for animal welfare by becoming the first Fur Free city in the nation,” said campaign supporter D’Amico. “We have pledged to be a place that is free of cruelty to animals and we can no longer support the barbaric fur trade by selling the products of that cruelty in our city.”
“This frivolous luxury can be stopped with consumer and civic action,” said campaign leader Ellen Lavinthal. “This will be another historic campaign showing the nation that West Hollywood is a leader in the protection of animal citizens.”
Photos credit to: http://wehonews.com, Gary Smith