Gus Newport spoke Jan. 18 at Mari City’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on King’s dream of the “Beloved Community.”
Newport, worked and marched with Martin Luther King Jr., served as mayor of Berkeley from 1979-1986 with the backing of the Berkeley Citizens Action, a coalition of progressives, reformers and radicals.
He has also been a grassroots community organizer for the last 50 years, including helping to rebuild Gulfport, Mississippi after it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Newport believes that a community must have a strong vision for itself and know what it wants to achieve. “You can’t define and build the community unless you have a broad vision. It takes a great philosopher in order to create a vision and dream to aspire to so all can function,” Newport said.
The Civil Rights movement accomplished a lot. But Newport says young activists are asking what did the Civil Right movement and the successes of the non-violence activism actually accomplish.
Poverty and racism still exists in America, and there is still a long way to go to impart full citizenship and freedom to all.
We must understand the road ahead and aspire to the “Beloved Community” that Martin Luther King spoke of.
According to the King Center, Marin Luther King envisioned the Beloved Community as a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.
In the Beloved Community, all people can share in the wealth of the earth. Poverty, hunger, and homelessness are indecent and will not be tolerated. Racism, discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.
Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Interpersonal or group conflicts can be resolved peacefully, with the adversaries reconciling and cooperating in a spirit of friendship and goodwill.
Newport ended his talk with a quote from Martin Luther King: “I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity. I choose to live for and with those who find themselves seeing life as a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign.
“This is the way I am going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way. If it means sacrificing, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way because I heard a voice saying, ‘Do something for others.’”
For more information on the “Beloved Community” go to: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sub4