“I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.”
- Coretta Scott King
Share Our Strength and Community Wealth Partners colleagues:
Our family tradition for the past 5 years has been to celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday by participating in the service day of Project 351 in Boston which brings together eighth grade service ambassadors from each of Massachusetts’s 351 towns. The launch of their year of service in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall always includes remarks from Governor Charlie Baker and various service heroes. Then everyone fans out to serve at the Greater Boston Food Bank, Cradles and Crayons, and The Pine Street Inn.,
The speakers this Saturday morning included Share Our Strength champion Joanne Chang, and newly elected Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the first African American woman ever elected to Congress from Massachusetts. In addition to sharing the Coretta Scott King passage above, Rep. Pressley recounted the story of Coretta’s role after meeting Martin Luther King in Boston in 1952 where they were both studying at the time.
Coretta was a talented soprano studying opera at the New England Conservatory of Music. Martin was doctorate student at Boston University. After they married and their involvement in the civil rights movement deepened Coretta realized she wouldn’t have time for the performing career for which she had prepared. Instead she raised money for the cause by singing at Freedom Concerts “where I narrated the story of the civil rights movement that we were involved in, and sang freedom songs in between the narrations that told the story of our struggle from Montgomery to Washington at that time.”
Up in the balcony where we were sitting, Rosemary elbowed me in the ribs, a usually reliable signal that she’s caught me daydreaming when I should have been paying attention to something important.
“What?” I whispered.
“She found a way to literally share her strength. Her voice. That was her strength to share.”
And that’s why we always participate in service on MLK Day, and why I always sit next to Rosemary.