“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remarked in a speech the year before he was killed. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” At its best, our work at JCCA aspires to achieve this vision of loving solidarity and human interconnectedness. Today’s holiday offers a chance to reconnect with perhaps the most powerful voice of moral clarity and reparative vision in our nation’s history.
The popular conception of Dr. King, focused on peace and tolerance, does not always include the fullness of his vision. In the speech quoted above, called “The Other America,” we find King’s enduring challenge on full display. In the speech, King’s message is not just about the internal eradication of bias, but about allocating resources to ensure the stability and flourishing of all. What a nation does with its wealth is a reflection of what it values.
Child and family services offer a weathervane: too often the need for our work sheds light on the overlooked suffering of “the other America,” the one beset by poverty, racism, and divestment. We support children and families who’ve been failed or forgotten by other systems. Finding strength in King’s example, we resolve to keep caring for kids who’ve fallen through the cracks, while also pointing out that many of those cracks do not need to be there. We will continue to speak up for what our clients and the communities we serve deserve: more timely and better quality psychiatric treatment for youth in crisis, fair compensation for frontline workers in government budgets, access to quality mental health care for all who need it, less reliance on the State Central Register for families to access the support they need, and a far more comprehensive continuum of care for young people and their families.
I’m continually awed by the lived commitment our staff demonstrates to the values MLK espoused so eloquently. It pulls me out of moments of pessimism and makes me believe enduring change is possible.
I wish you an inspired and reflective MLK Day.