Greetings from San Diego!
I’m here today to keynote the 30th All Peoples Celebration, an annual gathering that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The organizers expect an amazing crowd of more than 1,000 community organizers, artists, students, business leaders, elected officials, and faith leaders. Special thanks to Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego – organizers of the celebration – for inviting me to participate. Andrea was a star when she was at Berkeley Law and has been an amazing leader for decades.
Dr. King’s legacy is rich and multifaceted. One of his biggest impacts was inspiring an entire generation of social justice leaders to keep bending the arc of justice. I am going to focus on not making King into a mild-mannered Santa Claus type figure but will emphasize how militant he was.
When I was in high school, I traveled throughout Illinois giving the “I Have a Dream” speech. I later became the first African American student body president at Northwestern University, which helped me decide to go into law.
Dr. King’s legacy also includes the aspiration of a “Grand Coalition,” envisioned by Bayard Rustin as an alliance of groups and individuals from seemingly disparate parts of the movement, but sharing the same hunger for justice and equality.
At the Equal Justice Society, the practice of coalition building was embedded into our organizational DNA from day one, and remains one of our core principles, what we call the “Grand Alliance.”
Our work on the Grand Alliance explicitly acknowledges the interconnectedness between various issues, struggles, and constituencies. We believe that the separation of progressive activists into isolated “silos” hinders a broader progressive movement.
With that in mind, we participate in numerous silo-busting efforts as part of our ongoing commitment to building a Grand Alliance among progressive advocates.
We facilitate the Good Ally Collaborative, a network of attorneys and activists that grew out of the “How to Be a Good Ally Strategic Engagement Conference” held around this time one year ago in San Francisco.
EJS is also working with others to reactivate the phoenix-like California Civil Rights Coalition, a statewide community of civil rights organizations, activists, educators, lawyers, and advocates representing a wide range of issues and working as one to create a just and healthy society.
In fact, I’m in San Diego today because of the California Civil Rights Coalition. About 10 years ago, we made a conscious effort to restructure the leadership of the coalition to better represent the various regions of the state. Andrea Guerrero joined the coalition steering committee as a voice for the greater San Diego progressive communities.
Stay strong. We are right. We will prevail.