On this past Monday, January 19th, over a thousand people entered All Souls Church, Unitarian, for the Rebirthing King, Rebirthing America celebration hosted by Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Partnership. This event brought together a diverse group of theologians and activists from major American spiritual traditions.

Together, we explored the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2009. Using his April 4, 1967 speech: Beyond Vietnam, we looked at poverty, oppression and militarism today.

The evening began with a vigil for peace on the front steps of the church. Prayers were offered by Japanese Buddhist monks, Catholics fasting to close Guantanamo, and marriage equality activists.

During the service inside All Souls Church, Unitarian, speakers included:

  • Rev. William G. Sinkford– President of the UUA
  • Rev. Robert Hardies– Senior Minister of All Souls Church, Unitarian
  • Mark Johnson– Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation
  • Samina Faheem Sundas– Founder of Muslim American Voices
  • Rabbi Arthur Wascow– Founder of the Shalom Center
  • Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock– Minister from Disciples of Christ and founder of Axis of Friendship
  • and many others.

The service included music from the Interfaith Children’s Choir and singing from Dr. Ysaye Barnwell–a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock.

The evening was an amazing collection of inspiring speakers– concluding with messages from Rev. Jim Forbes, minister emeritus from New York City’s Riverside Baptist Church (where Dr. King gave the Beyond Vietnam address) , and Dr. Vincent Harding who co-penned the speech with Dr. King.

We learned together that Dr. King’s legacy is still important in an age of President Obama. Poverty, Oppression and Militarism are still prevalent in today’s society. Racism, homophobia, sexism, and the lack of equal opportunities inherent in these systems reinforce a lack of economic stability and reinforce these people as second class citizens. Not only does a military attempt to retain American supremacy and hegemony siphon important funds away from people who need assistance, these second class communities become a surplus of disenfranchised citizens who find their only solution is military service. (This is not to say that all military service people are or see themselves as disenfranchised. Nor is this to say that they are not incredibly brave.)

In order to end poverty, oppression and militarism, we find ourselves obligated to work against all three simultaneously.

For more information on the event and the Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Partnership, please visit olivebranchinterfaith.org

For more photos, visit the Advocacy & Witness facebook page.

About the Author
Alex Winnett

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