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This past weekend marked a historic moment, as thousands commemorated the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death. Far from a time of despair, as one speaker put it, April 5, 2008 was the 40th anniversary of the world waking up without King- and realizing its responsibility in carrying the dream forward.
In Memphis, TN, 1,200 people from around the country (and world) gathered for The Dream Reborn, a conference reenvisioning King's legacy in our current circumstances, with a dream of green-collar jobs. Sponsored by Green For All, an environmental justice alliance, the event glowed with the organization's vision, that we can create a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Infused with phrases like "Green jobs, not jails," The Dream Reborn embodied a beautiful unity of movements, concretely examining the interrelation of environmental sustainability and societal sustainability, and how confronting climate change can and must be the same struggle as the fight against inequality, racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ablism, and all forms of oppression.
I was blown away by the power of everyone there. Speakers like Winona Laduke (American Indian organizer), Majora Carter (Sustainable South Bronx), and Van Jones (Ella Baker Center) were rivaled by participants, whose legacies ranged from running sustinability science curriculums in urban schools to establishing job training programs for formerly incarcerated persons to work in energy efficiency.
And the spirit! And culture! We wrote new movement hymns, felt the beat of visionary hip-hop dreams, and shared our hearts' rhythms with one another.
I left with an unbelieveable energy, but also many questions. What is my role as a upper-middle-class white male in this movement to create an open space in the dream of sustainability? How can we claim collective power over this evolving economy before it is coopted entirely by elite interests?
YP4 offers an immense opportunity for connection and developing this movement. I hope I can better take advantage of this opportunity.
I feel our dreams entwining and can't help but smile.