|Photo: Flickr / eremi|
By Dorothy M. Zellner
Friday, January 14, 2011
As a veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement, I hope this year's Martin Luther King Day will be more than the usual constant repetition of his "I have a dream" speech. This has flattened the very essence of the movement, which was the vastness and the vibrancy of hundreds of thousands of "ordinary" people who wouldn't and couldn't stand for any more indignities and any more insults.
I know because I was in Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi as a staffer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; I spent two years in Atlanta.
This great movement of African-American civilians and their white allies lacked an army or air force, yet we imprinted our freedom demands on the national consciousness for the following decades and presumably, for decades to come.
There are other movements of civil society in every continent of the world. The one I have seen with my own eyes is the movement of Palestinians resisting Israel's occupation.
It may surprise people to know that Palestinians read Dr. King's words and call his name and study the American civil rights movement, among other histories of other peoples, for ways to bring to the attention of the world the fact that little by little, their land is disappearing along with their rights. The center of this effort now is in small West Bank villages like Ni'lin and Bil'in, where non-violent demonstrations have taken place weekly — for years. Yet these non-violent demonstrations of civilians are met with Israeli armed might.