On January 16th, 2012, at 6pm, about 200 Occupy Boston participants and supporters gathered at the Arlington Street Church for Martin Luther King Occupied: An MLK Community Gathering hosted by the People Of Color Working Group (POC). The event was emceed by Jimi Two Feathers. This event was kicked off by a performance by the Earth Drum Council Drummers, a group founded by Jimi and Morwen Two Feathers in 1990 which focuses on drumming as a tool for community-building, cultural awareness and personal growth, located in Concord, MA.
The next speaker was Wanjiku Mwangi, of United for a Fair Economy, who presented State of the Dream, based on the demographics regarding
income disparity, population growth, and debt comparison by race to paint a picture of the harsh realities people of color face regularly in society. Lizard Lounge poetry slam winners Janae Johnson and Porsha Olayiwola then shared passionate poetry addressing economic inequality and families in pain due to poverty and racism.
Brian Kwoba, a member of the People Of Color Working Group, next presented an excerpt and open discussion from a partial speech of King’s, dated April 4, 1967, which included:
It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago today he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin… we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
The next line of speakers were as follows: Kwame Somburu, 1968 vice-Presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, presented us with “Reflections on MLK”; Optimus of the Foundation Movement whom lead the crowd through a wonderful hip-hop performance, where 2 audience members got to take part on stage, and the entire audience got to participate; and Carl Williams who gave an introduction to the 3-Strikes Law, a proposed piece of legislation that that targets habitual offenders which incarcerates our communities, and burdens our taxpayers.
Afterwords, legendary activist and Boston native Mel King spoke to the delight of the audience for 10 minutes on the significance between Occupy and MLK as movements at different times with similar importance. Two special performances from New England’s Dream Girls came immediately following. By 8:30pm, the event winded down with a massive cheer, and the crowd then dispersed.