Remarks from Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center student given at the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series
To combine empathy, cooperation, and solidarity leads to meaningful change. It enables the creation of policies, initiatives, and movements that challenge and dismantle the structures that preserve things like white supremacy. Building coalitions and alliances among different organizations is an important way to deal with unjust public schools, racism in the criminal justice system, and killer cops. Going to rallies, cleanups for the community, and getting up early to do serious work are all things that contribute to working together.
We become so indulged in our personal lives that we fail to recognize the challenges faced by others, which creates division and hinders progress toward collective goals. This lack of awareness leads to indifference or perpetuation of inequality. Fostering empathy and solidarity rather than competing over who suffers more will help make stronger coalitions for social change.
To increase awareness and education about the various forms of discrimination and oppression leads to a people with a greater understanding. We live in a time where people are led to believe that the suffering or difficulty they are going through is greater than the suffering or struggle of another individual or group. This leads to competing with one another rather than working together to combat the harm that white supremacy and exploitation do to all of us. Dr. King says, “Our present urgent necessity is to cease our internal fighting and turn outward to the enemy, using every form of mass action yet known – and resolve never to let them rest. ” In solidarity, we strive for a stronger democracy.