Yesterday, the City of Woburn held an MLK Day event hosted by Mayor Scott Galvin. I had the opportunity to share some thoughts at the event. Our organization, Social Capital Inc. (SCI), has been working with community partners on race and diversity topics since we started in 2002. Below is the text for my remarks.
The recent rise in hate crimes and other blatant acts of racism, coming 50 years after Dr. King was assassinated, is certainly disturbing.
Well, Dr. King did tell us that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Of course, Dr. King doesn’t mean for us to patiently await the coming of a more just society. He was all about the urgency of addressing injustice now; and there are certainly urgent needs to address today.
Working on social justice issues at a national or state level is certainly one way to work on change in a way that would honor Dr. King’s legacy.
But I think we have a unique opportunity to honor Dr. King’s life and work here in our local community.
Woburn has a history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity, and recent years have provided a chance to really focus on our growing diversity.
That growing diversity was evident and highlighted during the kickoff event for Woburn’s 375th back in 2017. I have fond memories of the Ugandan group rocking the nearby First Congregational Church at that interfaith celebration.
But it’s not just about celebrating diversity, it is doing the work to make sure everyone here feels welcomed and part of the community. At SCI we teamed up with churches, community groups, the library and the schools to do a series of race dialogues. These discussions led to a series of follow-up initiatives to help everyone feel welcomed here and to make sure all students have the support they need. And you heard from Sophia from EmbRACE, a Woburn Memorial High School student group that was started to work on issues of race & diversity.
Dr. King dreamed of what he called the “Beloved Community”. I quote from the King’s Center website:
“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
Dr. King may have had a global vision for the Beloved Community. But I’d say we can apply the principles of the Beloved Community right here in Woburn. There are many divides in our society today, but here in Woburn, we can continue to be a place where hands reach out across differences, where people of diverse backgrounds come together in service of our Beloved Community.