Giving Compass’ Take:
• Lindsay Hill at the Raikes Foundation highlights five lessons to remember on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and throughout the year.
• How can funders incorporate these lessons into philanthropic practices?
Lesson one: The importance of recognizing our collective humanity
Perhaps the most enduring lesson from Dr. King is that achieving justice and liberation for all people depends on recognizing our shared humanity and destiny. The impacts of segregation, of injustice, are not limited to the oppressed, but extend to everyone in our society.
Lesson two: Understanding the different layers of racism and other forms of oppression
Sometimes we think about racism, sexism, and heterosexism only as blatantly egregious acts and language, but this narrow definition of oppression ignores the impact of systemic and structural oppression, as well as the impact of implicit bias and stereotypes.
To understand racism, we have to unpack its different layers and manifestations: internalized racism, interpersonal racism, and systemic racism.
Dr. King understood well that unless we addressed the racism within ourselves, within our communities, and in the broader systems that govern everyday life, we would not achieve justice. That means addressing not only outright racism, but also the racialized outcomes of systems and the preference for order over justice.
Lesson three: The importance of evolving our ideas and strategies
Dr. King evolved his strategy throughout the Civil Rights Movement. He used strategies like organizing direct action (sit-ins) and civil disobedience, writing letters and giving speeches to those in positions of power, using the media to bring images of the Civil Rights Movement into people’s homes, and mobilizing young people. Before his assassination, Dr. King was evolving his strategy to not just focus on race and racism, but to show how interconnected racism and classism are. He was building a multi-racial movement of folks that would advocate for human rights, as opposed to just civil rights.
Lesson four: Young people are powerful
Young people knew how important this moment was and wanted to participate – they attended marches and protests and even boycotted school in certain places, to participate. And when people across the nation saw young people putting their lives and bodies on the line, it forever changed the way they saw the Civil Rights Movement.
Lesson five: Movements are made up of everyday people
Oftentimes we hear about leaders like Dr. King and think of them as extraordinary people, capable of things greater than “average” people. But Dr. King defined leadership as everyday acts, intentional actions, and leading through love in all that we do. He believed in ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Read the full article about Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Lindsay Hill at Raikes Foundation.
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