Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Operation Hope and Recovery

Man of Letters

Twenty months after he arrived in Montgomery, a local seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a city bus to a white passenger.
Martin Luther King Jnr
(Photo by Michael Ochs / Getty)
There are times when an event takes place that seems at first glance to be modest, small in scale and not hugely significant. In retrospect, history has a way of restoring some perspective to these seemingly insignificant events.

It was a cold Sunday on January 15, the anniversary of the birthday of Dr Marin Luther King. We had stood for most of the day with the Occupy movement at the historic location of St Paul’s, London.

Celebrating the life of Martin Luther King with the Occupy London movement on the steps of St Paul's.
(Photo by Lester Holloway).

 The theme was 'Occupy the Dream'. I think Dr King would have been proud as we celebrated his life through music song and poetry. At the end of his life leading the Poor Peoples Campaign, Dr King had led an occupation of the White House lawns to highlight the plight of America’s poor. As we stood there in the freezing cold imbued with the spirit of Dr King, Bishop Wayne Malcolm, Chair of Operation Hope & Recovery, reminded that Christ himself occupied the temple and threw out the money lenders.
Bishop Wayne Malcolm: Martin Luther King advocated civil disobedience to overcome racial segregation
(Photo by OccupyLSX )
Later that day, we had organised a small and discreet theological discussion on the life of Dr King with some respected theologians, ministers of the faith and a number of activists. We sat for two hours and heard presentations on Dr King’s life. We heard how he was initially rejected and vilified by his fellow church leaders, how he had moved to initially from focusing on Civil Rights to critiquing capitalism.
Operation Hope and Recovery [1.6666666666667]
Photo by OBV
Then we heard a presentation on the state of racism in Britain today followed by a brilliant summary analysis of Government policy and a passionate and evocative contribution on the importance of voter registration.

People spoke with great insight, dignity and gravity. The atmosphere was solemn and the discussion from the invited attendees was simply outstanding. The quality of the debate, the insights shared and candid nature of the discussion were, for me, inspirational. I left with the overwhelming feeling that this meeting was a seminal moment. Others spoke of the importance of this seminar and the critical timing of the event.

It felt that a bridge had been crossed. We committed to meet again and working in partnership on a number of important issues. Everyone committed to continuing our discussions and exchange of ideas about the theology of social action and the role of the church.

As we left the seminar and stepped outside, the cold crisp air froze our breaths and as we made our way home I reflected that something in the atmosphere had changed.

I reflected on the discussions and brilliant contributions and concluded that maybe, just maybe, this quiet small meeting will be seen to have changed the course of Black British history. On that point only history and the people can judge. Watch this space…

Lee Jasper

My speech given at Occupy London MLK Day celebrations: http://leejasper.blogspot.com/2012/01/occupy-dream-another-world-is-possible.html

(First published at: http://obv.org.uk)