Returning recently from a "seeking community tour," Paul Born, director of Tamarack Community here, says that "being in the southern US, in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, provided a powerful reminder about the role of this movement in history, its global implications, and how it affects ongoing work for social justice."
Born, along with Will Winterfield and Helen Epp (widow to the late Frank H. Epp, founder of the Canadian Mennonite), timed the tour around the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Jan. 15. The group visited historic sights of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia and Tennessee, including Koinonia Farms and Jubilee.
"Martin Luther King (MLK) died in 1968 but his legacy remains," writes Born. "In Canada we recognize his birthday, but in the USA this day is a national holiday commemorating the accomplishments of a great man and a movement that brought civil rights to millions of people.
"I have always been inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and especially by the life of MLK, but this year it has taken on a special meaning. For the past week I have been traveling through the southern United States, places like Atlanta, Birmingham and Memphis; to visit communities and communitarians working to advance civil rights and to model racial integration.
“I have recorded what I witnessed and some of what I learned on our Seeking Community website. Along the way, I also visited several human rights museums and attended a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church where MLK grew up and also preached. I recorded a special video of the congregation singing 'We Shall Overcome' in recognition of Martin Luther King's birthday.
"The Civil Rights Movement inspired and continues to inspire us to work together to ensure that racism is eradicated and that human rights are recognized everywhere."Today, the third Monday in January, is Martin Luther King Day. I invite you to join us and to take a minute of your day to recognize the significance of what this day represents.
"On a road trip, with inspiring community philosopher Will Winterfeld, we travelled through some of the southern US, stopping to visit communities and historic sites in Georgia and Tennessee. Despite getting caught in a snowstorm that delayed us in Memphis and again in Birmingham, I have returned home awed and inspired by the journey and the places we visited along the way.
"The two interconnected threads of my inspiration arise from witnessing the activation of the altruism that exists in us all. During our visits to the intentional communities of Koinonia andJubilee, I was struck by how living in community can put altruism into action. Equally, being in the southern US, in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, provided a powerful reminder about the role of this movement in history, its global implications, and how it affects ongoing work for social justice.
"I have written several blogs on our site that follow our road trip and articulate my thoughts on the Civil Rights Movement. As well, I have selected and posted a variety of photos and commented on each one in hopes they will inspire you to remember and in turn renew your personal commitment to the struggle for human rights in our own country and around the world.
"I hope my thoughts and experiences inspire you on your journeys."
--Feb. 2, 2011