Martin Luther King Day

Here’s something that I wanted to write about ever since I witnessed something that I saw on my birthday last month. I decided to finally post this on Martin Luther King Day mainly because one frequently overlooked aspect of MLK’s civil rights movement is that he not only called for an end to racism and segregation but he also fought for economic justice as well. He frequently gave caustic, biting, and radical critiques of American society and politics. In fact, when he was shot to death in Memphis he was there to help out with a sanitation workers strike that was going on at the time. Here is what he had to say about economic justice.

Had Martin Luther King’s vision of economic justice become a reality, I’m sure that I would not have encountered this incident in Baltimore in the first place.

Last month I celebrated my birthday by going to Baltimore where I went to Harborplace and Christmas Village. On that day the Polar Vortex had hit the area and temperatures were barely above freezing in the daytime while temperatures totally plummeted at night to as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit. I decided to go anyway despite the cold because it was my birthday and I wanted to do something fun. When I was walking back to the Camden Yards Light Rail station, I was passing the Baltimore Convention Center where I saw this person lying under a white blanket outside the Convention Center’s doors.

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Given the freezing temperatures I felt that this guy shouldn’t even be outside. The challenge is that I didn’t know whom to call right off. I haven’t lived in Baltimore City since I was five years old and I currently live closer to DC than Baltimore. I didn’t know what homeless organizations were active in Baltimore. So I took out my smartphone and took the above picture then frantically did a Google search for any homeless organizations who could get this man off of the streets.

I texted the photo to a couple of organizations while indicating where the person was located. For added measure I texted the photo to the Baltimore Police Department. I even uploaded this photo on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts urging people to forward this to anyone who could help bring this person in from the cold. I don’t know if my efforts helped or not other than the fact that for the next few days I did a Google search for any recent homeless deaths in Baltimore outside the Baltimore Convention Center only to turn up empty-handed. I guess this person somehow survived the Polar Vortex but I’ll never know for sure.

I was originally raised Roman Catholic and throughout my Catholic girl years I heard the parable about the Good Samaritan numerous times. The indication is that all good Christians should be Good Samaritans for the less fortunate and there’s no excuse for not helping others. The reality of trying to be a Good Samaritan is far more complex than my CCD education ever indicated. For one thing, you’ll never know whether you were even effective in getting help for that person. For all I know there might have been a different homeless organization who could’ve sent a car or van immediately and picked up this person and I somehow missed that information in my Google search. Or maybe a homeless organization or the police did pick that person up but never notified me that this had happened. On top of it, it’s very hard to get help for someone when you don’t even live in the area because you don’t know immediately where to turn.

I hope the person in that photo turned out okay but I’ll never know for sure.

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