Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 9, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     1/13/15

In this edition:

*MLK Day
*What Are You FOR?
*Did You Know?

*MLK Day
         The federal holiday honoring the birthday of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior is Monday, January 19, 2015.

         The Consultation of Religious Communities (CRC) Interfaith Service is Sunday, January 18 at 7pm at St. Mark’s Methodist in Iowa City.

My family and I attend the Interfaith Service every year. It SHOULD be packed. It is not. What’s more, you rarely ever see any elected/appointed officials at the event. I wonder what kind of impact it would have to see City Councilors, the Superintendent of Schools, or Chief of Police at the event?

Another event is held on Monday the 19th from 11-3 at the Grant Wood Elementary gymnasium. Sponsored by the Coalition for Racial Justice, Community Partnership to Protect Children, and the Americore VISTA program, this event includes food, entertainment, and service activities. A new twist this year includes awards for community service.

The University of Iowa is once again sponsoring several events in honor of MLK. Also known as Human Rights Week, here is a list of some of the events:

Date & Time: Monday, January 19th, 2015, 3:30 P.M. – 4 P.M.
Description: Join our march in unity as we walk from the East side of the UI Pentacrest, approximately ½ mile around the Pentacrest, returning to the Old Capitol. The march will be followed by a “Time to Remember”, in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol.

Date & Time: Monday, January 19, 2015, 4 P.M.
Location: Senate Chambers of Old Capitol Museum
Description: This is an hour-long program with a featured speaker and entertainment to honor MLK’s legacy. Program will be followed by a reception and an opportunity to meet other UI community members.

Date & time: Monday, January 19, 2015, 9 A.M. - 3 P.M.
Location: Currier MPR/Across the City
Description: Join the Herky C.A.R.E.S. Project for the First Annual MLK Day On! This program will bring students together to engage in a day of service to organizations on campus and in the Iowa City community.

Date & Time: Now until Friday, January 9th, 2015
Description: Submit a photo of yourself holding a printed or handmade sign with your favorite Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation or any word or phrase that captures the spirit of Dr. King, human rights, diversity and inclusion.  Email your photo to Images will be displayed on The Loop and will be shown prior to the Distinguished Lecture on January 20th. Deadline to submit is Friday, January 9, by 5 P.M.

Date & Time: Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 – Friday, January 23rd
Location: Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF) Auditorium.

Date & Time: January 19th, 2015, 2 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.
Location: Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Description: This event will include several speakers, gospel music and a chance for interaction with the audience on the importance of MLK.

Date & Time: Tuesday, January 20th, 10 A.M. – 11 A.M.
Description: Come enjoy the musical performance of world-renowned jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon in the Colloton Pavilion Lobby.

Date & Time: Tuesday, January 20th, Noon – 1 P.M.
Location: Sahai Auditorium, Medical Education & Research Facility
Description: Enjoy trombonist, composer, conductor, arranger and musical ambassador of American jazz, Wycliffe Gordon. The lecture will be held from noon to 1 P.M., followed by a reception.

Date & Time: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 10 P.M.
Location: Public Space One
Description: Kyla’s poetry is based off of her real life experiences and she enjoys telling her story of triumphing over tragedy.

Date & Time: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 4 - 6 P.M.
Location: Van Oel Multipurpose Room, Currier Hall
Description: Students, staff, faculty, and community members mix and mingle to share food, fun, and resources at this welcoming event.

Date & Time: Friday, February 13, 2015, 12:30 P.M. -2:30 P.M.
Location: Jones Commons, Lindquist Center
Description: The purpose of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Symposium is to showcase graduate and undergraduate research projects (at all stages) related to diversity.
It makes me proud to see my alma mater recognize the man and recognize the need for the holiday. Unfortunately, the UI is virtually alone in our community when it comes to recognizing this day.

         We often hear about Christians who feel that Christmas has lost its meaning, union members who feel that way about Labor Day, and Veterans who feel the same about Veteran’s Day. I fear that this could be happening to MLK Day as well.

         America has come a long way since the 60s, and overt racism is now typically (but certainly not always) frowned upon. We still have a long way to go, however. MLK’s work – our work – on racial issues is far from done.

         Recent events clearly demonstrate that we need more discussion on race. Not just discussion, either. We need CHANGE. We need a movement like the one led by Dr. King. We need to address the racial divide in schools, voting, policing, prisons, and everywhere else that our results are bad.

         For the past month or so, I replaced my nameplate in the Board Room. Instead of my name, it says, “Black Lives Matter.” Know what? I have not been asked about this even once. I am not certain what that means, but it definitely does not amount to a discussion of race in this county.

Back to Doctor King - it is also important that we remember that King was a radical in many ways. America grudgingly accepted racial reforms because they were less dangerous to the status quo than the other issues King championed. King took seriously the Biblical teachings that the love of money is a sin, and that rich men will not be welcomed into Heaven. He proposed seismic changes to the political and social structures that exist in America. In addition, King was adamantly anti-war.

To the status quo, he was the most dangerous man in the world. They were happy to grant him concessions on Jim Crow if they could maintain their financial and military might. The fact that he kept pushing on the Biblical teachings regarding greed meant he was destined to die. He was too big a threat.

So what would Doctor King have to say about Johnson County in 2015? He would be appalled by the disproportionate minority contact our police have with minority citizens. He would oppose militarization of police. He would be our most vocal advocate for affordable housing. Tax breaks for businesses would make him angry. He would definitely oppose the regressive local option sales tax. He would be a huge supporter of the Center for Worker Justice.

         Take some time this week to read some of the great books that are out there on Dr. King. More importantly, take some time to read the things he wrote himself. And Happy MLK Day!

*What Are You FOR?
         It may not be a “resolution”, but I am determined to spend 2015 calling out naysayers.

         I am happy to hear what you are against… just be ready to tell me what you are FOR. If you cannot tell me what you are FOR, you need to go away. Because there is too much that needs doing for haters to use up our air.

         Being against something is easy. Too easy, frankly. I have much greater respect for people who try to solve problems.

         It is called taking responsibility. It is called taking a stand. It is called have beliefs. Own it. If you don’t, you’ll be hearing from me.

         And if you catch me telling you what I oppose, without mentioning what I favor – call me out!

*DID YOU KNOW?  "I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about "Where do we go from here?" that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society."
---Martin Luther King, Jr.

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