Taking Martin Luther King's Message to the Next Level!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 21, 2008
This is my speech given at the Inter Faith Service held at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on the eve of Martin Luther King's Birthday.
"Greetings from Bexar County!
Thomas Jefferson said that "A little rebellion every now and then is a good thing and just as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical."
Dr. Martin Luther King's life was about faith in action.
He was a man who decided to create a nonviolent "little rebellion". But he was willing to pay for it with his life. And ultimately he did.
On December 5, 1955, five days after Montgomery civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to obey the city's rules mandating segregation on buses, black residents launched a bus boycott and elected King as president of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association.
In June, 1963, after mass demonstrations where police used dogs and fire hoses that generated newspaper headlines throughout the world, President Kennedy reacted to the Birmingham protests and the obstinacy of segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace. He agreed to submit broad civil rights legislation to Congress. The result was the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Using great leadership skills, during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march, King and his lieutenants were able to keep intra-movement conflicts sufficiently under control and were able to bring about passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Early in 1968, the year he was assassinated, Martin Luther King initiated a Poor Peoples campaign designed to confront economic problems that had not been addressed by early civil rights reforms.
Today, hopefully we not only celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, but strengthen our resolve to confront economic problems that have still yet to be addressed.
- Reform the payroll tax and instead of taxing up to the first $89,000 of one's salary, place an exempt floor of say, thirty thousand dollars and raise the ceiling from $90,000.00 to $150,000.00.
- Provide an appropriate health insurance plan that includes all but does not treat those covered like cattle.
- Consider reinstating the draft in order to bring the families of wealth into the opposition to endless wars that drain both blood and money from Americans, especially those of modest means.
- Redirect money into education, especially research and development so that we can remain economically competitive as a country.
- Finance the rebirth of older central city neighborhoods in order to strengthen all of our communities.
The great dividing line in humanity is not along the lines of race, color, creed or national origin. It is instead along the lines of ignorance and its polar opposite, understanding.
What I would challenge each of you to do in the spirit of Dr. King, is to continue the struggle for a just society, a society of which you, I and Martin Luther King can be proud. Let's resolve to take it to the next level as never before: today!"