“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
As we pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, it is evident that his message of justice and equality remains as pressing today as it was during the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, systemic biases, food insecurity, poverty, health disparities, and issues surrounding homelessness continue to afflict our society, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” — Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King’s call to action for an end to racial segregation and discrimination inspired a generation to stand up for their rights and fight for change. His belief in equality for all continues to inspire individuals around the world.
However, with recent tragedies, it is clear that the struggle for justice is far from over. There are still numerous instances of racial profiling, police brutality, and economic inequality that disproportionately affect people of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the deep-seated health disparities that exist in our country, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.
Since joining GLIDE in 1963, I’ve made it my mission to create a radically inclusive community. Where everyone is embraced regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, denomination, or views. Our programs- daily free meals, rental assistance and education, Men in Progress, Janice Mirikitani’s Family Youth and Childcare Center to name a few were founded to help those that have fallen on hard times and neglected by society.
Along with community partners like UCSF, SFDPH, Code Tenderloin, SFCHC, and others we’re addressing health disparities head on. Since the start of the pandemic, 24,295 COVID tests have been administered and 5,522 vaccine shots, helping the Tenderloin reach a vaccination rate of more than 90%.
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
It is our duty to carry on Dr. King’s legacy and work towards a more just and equal society. This involves speaking out against injustice whenever and wherever it occurs and working towards systemic change that addresses the root causes of these issues. It also involves advocating for policies that promote equality and opportunity for all. Our Center for Social Justice not only hosts open discussions around tough issues impacting our community but also actively participates in advocacy work with policy makers to address the root causes of bias.
On January 11, GLIDE celebrated with coalition partners as the San Francisco Police Commission voted to adopt significant changes to traffic stop policies to curtail the use of racially-biased traffic stops, also known as pretext stops. Black drivers in San Francisco are disproportionately stopped by police officers, making up 26% of all traffic stops but just 5% of the population. This inflicts disparate harms on our communities and compounds generations of trauma, just for trying to get to your destination. Over the past 18 months, GLIDE worked as a member of the Coalition to End Biased Stops to drive reform around traffic enforcement policies. On January 11, the tireless work of these 110+ organizations culminated in the Police Commission voting in favor for what is now the most comprehensive policy in the United States to address racially-biased traffic stops. I am proud and hopeful.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
As we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr and his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, let us also commit to continuing his legacy and building a better future for all. Let us continue pushing and challenging the status quo for a more just and equal society for all.
Rev. Cecil Williams