This year’s Whidbey Martin Luther King, Jr., “Blessed Are the Peace Makers” community event will focus on the martyrs of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign.
Beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, the event will remember those murdered by civil rights opponents and the campaign that ultimately resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a piece of federal legislation that changed American politics.
The 2008 election of President Barack Obama was a culmination of the act, but there is pushback, according to a press release by St. Augustine’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the event organizer.
“The elections of 2008 and 2016 reflect two different aspects of America,” said Dick Hall, event facilitator. “2008 was America at its best with the values of inclusivity and hope. 2016 represented a darker America of exclusivity, bigotry, misogyny and fear. It is important that on this Martin Luther King holiday that we witness to what is best about America – our inclusive, multicultural, multiracial society.”
The featured speaker will be Dr. Mary K. Sandford. Referring to the 2016 election campaign Sandford’s talk will be “Where Do We Go From Here?” She will discuss how to maintain both hope and actions to continue Dr. King’s dream of social and racial justice.
Sandford grew up in the segregated South where her mother became involved in civil rights work. Sandford holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Colorado, and lived and worked in three southern states (most recently the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) before moving to Whidbey Island in 2007.
As in past years, a narrative read from the pulpit will interact with readings from the pews. This year the readings will focus on the martyrs of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign. Jimmy Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo and Jonathan Daniels were all murdered by opponents of civil rights advances. Others witnessing for voting rights suffered beatings, loss of employment and imprisonment. The human costs were great, but ultimately successful.
Complementary salads and beverages will be served from 12 to 12:45 in Campbell Hall.
Music will be a key component of the service with Trinity Lutheran Music Minister Karl Olsen leading the singing.
The “Blessed Are the Peace Makers” community event is planned, organized and implemented by the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship.