Our MLK Day of Service tribute: three exemplars of public service
“A man has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his own individual concerns, to the broader concerns of all humanity.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the New Covenant Baptist Church, in Chicago, Illinois, on April 9, 1967.
Dr. King would be murdered in Memphis less than one year later.
Today on Midday, on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and MLK Day of Service, we’ll meet three people for whom every day is a day of service.
Tom's first guest is DeRay Mckesson, a Baltimore native who has risen to national prominence as an activist on behalf of social justice. He is the host of Pod Save the People, the author of On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope and one of the leaders of Campaign Zero, whose mission is to eliminate police violence. DeRay McKesson joins us on Zoom from New York.
Tom speaks next with Chaplain Asma Inge-Hanif. She is a nurse practitioner and activist who has worked in underserved communities for more than 30 years. She heads the Muslimat Al Nissa Shelter, one of the nation's only shelters for Muslim women fleeing domestic abuse, and directs the Inge Benevolent Ministries and Healthy Solutions Holistic Health Center.
Tom's final guest today is Rev. Alvin Hathaway, who recently retired as pastor of Baltimore's historic Union Baptist Church. The veteran community organizer is now working to restore a historic school building in his West Baltimore community — the old PS 103, aka Henry Highland Garnet School — into a new community facility to be known as the Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center. Rev. Dr. Hathaway joins us on Zoom.
Tom takes a moment during today's Day of Service tribute to remember Dante Barksdale, an outreach coordinator for Baltimore City's Safe Streets program who was shot to death on the Sunday of MLK Weekend one year ago:
"As I said just after he was murdered, as a 'violence interrupter,' Dante dedicated the last ten years of his life to de-escalating disputes and intervening in situations where he convinced people who were considering violence to consider an alternative. He repeatedly placed himself in dangerous situations, using his skill, intelligence and compassion to show people a better way; a safer way; a way forward.
"He was trying to make Baltimore better. He refused to give up on young people who had, in some instances, given up on themselves. Dante knew the pressures and stresses that people in communities of color experience, and how those challenges can sometimes lead to bad decision-making. He knew about this because of his own life experience, and because of his empathy and his love. Several months after Dante was killed, another Safe Streets volunteer, Kenyell Wilson, was shot to death in his Cherry Hill neighborhood.
"Dante Barksdale was 46 years old. Kenyell Wilson was 44."
And this news about the passing of another notable figure. On Sunday night, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the death of one of the last remaining Tuskegee Airmen. Brigadier General Charles McGee, who flew 409 fighter combat missions in WW II, the Korean War and in Vietnam, has died at the age of 102."
— Tom Hall