Three things are happening in the coming week that mean a lot to me:
- Monday, January 20th, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Tuesday, January 21st is the fourth anniversary of the Citizens United decision, and
- Sunday, January 26th is the fourth anniversary of Annabel Park’s post that spontaneously ignited the Coffee Party.
These things could be three different blog posts and the subject of three different blogtalkradio shows. And for me, they are very clearly related.
Dr. King has been a major influence in my life since my teen years. I knew him as thoughtful and courageous, and I continue to believe in his cause. The Seattle Times has a wonderful web site that reflects the man I remember: http://seattletimes.com/special/mlk/
“Martin Luther King Jr. has now been dead longer than he lived. But what an extraordinary life it was. At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his "I Have a Dream" speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.”
The test question for moments of importance has become, “where were you when….” When I learned that Dr. King was dead, I was helping to get ready for my youngest sister’s 8th birthday dinner. On the 20th, I’ll be attending a local 20 year tradition: The Peace Breakfast that kicks off a month long series of events in honor of Dr. King. It includes Day of Service projects from the city and the county.
How will you remember Dr. King? Post a comment here to share or promote how you will spend the day. If you have not decided you can go to http://mlkday.gov/ to find a Day of Service project near you. Volunteer opportunites for the MLK Day of Service can also be found on this site: http://www.volunteermatch.org/seasonsofservice/mlkday/
The Citizens United decision properly called Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, was feared by many to be the beginning of the end of citizen influence, a position declared unlikely by the majority position of the Supreme Court, and has proven to be the overly powerful money-in-politics weapon we feared. Taking corporate personhood to the next level, and declaring money as speech, the decision gave business interests rights that exceeded those of citizens.
There are numerous groups, Coffee Party included, who have taken on the challenge of undoing or working around the decision. The consequences of the decision have galvanized alliances and coalitions that educate the public, strategize solutions, and execute actions across America. If you plan to participate in an event on the anniversary, share and promote it here by posting a comment.
Here are two articles enumerating actions and events:
- Fourth Anniversary of Citizens United Supreme Court Decision: When PACs Took Over Politics
- Eight ways to overturn Citizens United
Where were you when you learned of the Citizens United decision? I was at my computer, and immediately started “screaming” posts and comments. I had feared the decision, and even ended a long donor relationship with The ACLU because, having questioned their decision to not act (to believe they had no standing to act) led to my being told, “we will just have to agree to disagree on this”. </$>
Annabel Park’s Facebook post that generated the Coffee Party probably saved my life. You might have gotten hints of this from “screaming posts and comments” above. The “you lie” comment at the 2009 State of the Union Address had made “snarky” fashionable. The news the previous summer had been drowning in the media’s fascination with rude and aggressive people hijacking town hall meetings across America. The creative tension between folks of different persuasions had become a wounding (rather than engaging) condition.
Annabel’s call to INCITE CIVILITY AND REASON spoke to me. My sister demanded I take this curiosity further at The Rally to Restore Sanity (with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert). Once I signed the Civility Pledge, I was committed. I became involved in the Enough is Enough campaign. I ran for a position on the member elected Board of Directors.
So to answer the question, “Where was I when Annabel wrote THE POST HEARD AROUND THE WORLD?” I was one of millions on computers, engaged in virtual combat. That peaceful and powerful message stopped the noise in my head, dropped my emotional shield, and nurtured the part of me that was reasoning and compassionate. Where were you? Where are you now?
So…let’s talk about next week’s three anniversaries. We have five options to expand the conversation.
- Comment on this blog
- Post events you want to share and promote
- Comment on the Facebook post
- Call in to the radio show today (or listen in)
- Listen to the radio show later
The radio show LUNCH WITH LOUDEN is today
Thursday January 16, 2014
Noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern,
http://tobtr.com/s/5873213 Live or Later
As for Citizens United, I learned about it from journalist, Greg Palast, the day the Supreme Court announced their decision. I’ve been doing what I can ever since to raise awareness about it and what we need to do to overcome it and then reverse it. Anyone interested in learning more about what I see as our best near-term effort is invited to visit http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/
I don’t recall how Coffee Party USA first came into view. I checked my FB timeline. I liked you in April of 2011. I’ve been rooting for you ever since even while I still try to figure out who and what you want to be. That said, keep up the good work! Those of you I “know” strike me as very sincere and very committed citizens of the type we could use more of in this country.
I don’t remember Dr. King, being a youngster (sort of )…so his legacy is what I have to go by. As I am one of the millions who have benefitted from said legacy, I am fortunate. I am privileged…by virtue of being caucasian. And within my family, I can see the evidence of progress within three generations, where we have moved from segregation to tolerance to acceptance.
When the Citizens United ruling was announced, I was focused on a major transition in my personal life and it barely registered. Living in a conservative area, it just wasn’t a big deal. Around the same time, I began working as a campaign manager in a local election and my focus on national politics was put aside for a time.
An astute colleague of mine, Walt Roberts, first brought up Coffee Party to me a few months later. He followed the movement and made contact with Annabel. As we finished up another project together, we could see the Coffee Party expanding and growing exponentially, exceeding the ability of a few volunteers to manage.
My life the last ten years has been committed to serving our communities and working towards systemic change. It isn’t so much “how am I going to remember this year” as it is “what am I going to do today?”
I celebrate Dr. King by asking everyone, “Have the sons of slaves and slave owners truly sat down at the table of brotherhood; and if not, how can we make this happen?” After all, that WAS the dream. I think we can all agree that while as a society we have come a long way in healing the scars of slavery and racism. However, pragmatically speaking, we, meaning both parties still have a long way to go. As such, my way of honoring Dr. King is to recommit myself to the task of wiping out racism in my lifetime. Is that a reasonable goal? Perhaps not. But if falling short still means making progress, I’ll take that result.
As for Citizens United, we are all well embroiled in this fight. My [re]commitment comes in the form of being the Coffee Party liaison to groups such as Represent Us, Move to Amend, and others seeking to reverse this most horrific of decisions by what seems more and more to be a high court that has fallen under the influence of Big Money. I find this very sad, considering that the Supreme Court was designed to be “above all reproach”. Nonetheless, we must carry on until this battle is won.
And finally, I will admit to being aware neither of Annabel’s nor the Coffee Party’s existence until my wife read about the Nashville Summit in March of 2010. But from the moment I learned of its mission statement and guiding principles, I was hooked. Now I proudly serve on the Board of Directors and host a weekly Coffee Party radio show. So thanks for your pioneering spirit Annabel. The Board has big plans for 2014; so please stay tuned, and above all, stay involved.
Thanks for all you do!
Director, Channel Partners
Radio Host, Press 1 for Democracy
Coffee Party USA