Today was a day for the nation to pause and remember the life, legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For me, it was a day to read, to watch and to reflect on what what Dr. King’s work means for our nation today as we watched the Presidential Inauguration, a symbol of our nation’s continued democracy.
For some, it was a day to serve and “bring a little heaven to earth.”
In Richmond, Virginia’s Senate pulled two political stunts that lead me to believe we have not learned as much from Dr. King as we like to think.
While renowned Civil Rights lawyer and Richmond’s first African-American mayor, Senator Henry Marsh, was attending the inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C., his Republican counterparts took the opportunity to push their redistricting agenda. In the vacuum of Marsh’s absence and as they met during a federal holiday, the balanced Senate (currently comprised of 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats) was suddenly unbalanced.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the one-sided passage of HB 259 erased one of the Democratic seats in western Virginia and created a new district, predominantly populated by blacks.
This is not the equality Dr. King preached.
To further perpetuate segregation, and to do so while making a mockery of Senator Marsh’s absence is unbecoming of the Commonwealth’s legislature and a disgrace to our Commonwealth.
Furthermore, the Senate then adjourned early on Monday:
On motion of Senator Stosch, the Senate adjourned in memory [of] General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson at 4:10 p.m. to convene Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12 m. [Senate Minute Book, January 21, 2013]
Must the legislature further their mockery of the day by honoring the memory of a Confederate general, one whose day had already been celebrated?
In 2000, then Governor Jim Gilmore proposed a separation of Lee-Jackson-King Day into two separate holidays. Thus, in 2013, the holidays were celebrated as:
- Lee-Jackson Day: Friday, January 18
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Monday, January 21
Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation on the matter of King Day (although not for Lee-Jackson Day) in 2013. Perhaps he can teach a few lessons to the Senators about respect. I suggest lesson 1 be a repeal of HB 259.
We don’t need more segregation, we need partnership. We don’t need more partisan showmanship and trickery, we need honest bipartisanship. Monday was an opportunity to set an example for current and future Virginians, and instead, we took one giant leap back toward the 1960’s.
Where do we go from here?
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. Amos 5:24
You do well to be angry…don’t go to bed angry. Ephesians 4:26, 27
And so I must write before I sleep tonight so that I may rest in peace.
Go in peace, my friends. Do something important today. And don’t even get me started on what the pastor from the Pacific Northwest tweeted yesterday…