Editor’s Note: Antiracism Open Mic is a new monthly forum dedicated to illuminating efforts by individuals and organizations in our region to confront the systemic racism that continues to plague our country. To contribute your voice to the Antiracism Open Mic, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tim Gittings
My birthday is Jan. 14. I don’t say that so that you will all get me gifts (though I’m the last person that would want to come between you and your sense of magnanimity). I mention it because I was always disappointed that my mom didn’t wait just a little longer so that I could be born on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Still, I always felt an affinity with him and he was one of my heroes growing up. I could tell by the awe and reverence in the voices of adults in my community whenever they talked about him that Dr. King was an inspirational, powerful force for good in the world. When he talked, he moved me in a way that other people couldn’t. His voice and his words were like a river, an irresistible and nourishing current that flowed toward justice.
Unlike many adult men I saw around me who relied on threats and violence to try to try to control the world around them, Dr. King seemed possessed of a great, rooted strength and integrity that was so much more powerful and substantial. He wanted to build, not tear down; he wanted to heal, not harm; and he made Love a thing to be honored and respected, even in the face of violence and greed. He spoke of a better way that we could belong to one another, and that impacted me greatly.
As we got older, some friends would gather every year on his birthday to read out loud to one another from his speeches and writings. Those gatherings were beautiful sources of communion and companionship. Dr. King’s words reverberate and fill rooms. They resonate in body and spirit. They give voice to the pain, fear, frustration and doubt, allowing them to move and shake loose so that hope, love, conviction and faith can take their place.
The Spring Green Community Group, whose mission is to create a community in the River Valley area dedicated to identifying, understanding, addressing and dismantling white supremacy and the patterns of racism and injustice, invites you to gather with us at the Slowpoke Lounge & Cabaret in Spring Green at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 to share the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bring your favorite quote or speech or essay and we will read, listen and celebrate this amazing human and his legacy.
Tim Gittings is a Core Company actor at American Players Theatre. Next year will be his 15th season working for APT and 31st as an audience member. When he’s not acting, he likes fixing bicycles, making cocktails and playing bass with his band, Sugar Mama & The Rent Check. He’s also very into social justice and is an active member of the Spring Green Community Group. For more information, email email@example.com or join Community Gatherings to Support Racial Justice on Facebook.