The P-G's Amy McConnell Schaarsmith covers a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 79th birthday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
"Everybody was involved -- there was no big me and little you," said the Rev. Peters, the Henry L. Hillman associate professor of urban ministry at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a member of the East End Cooperative Ministry, an interfaith social services group. "Dr. King saw it first, how to break down barriers not just of race but any barrier between people."
"The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one," he said, quoting from the speech. "There are no broad highways to lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going."
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar," the Rev. Downing read from Dr. King's speech "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." "It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
Food for thought.
The P-G also asked people throughout the Pittsburgh area, "What would King do?" Most of the respondents outdid themselves.
Martin Luther King would have had a blog and a dream.
His rallies, his struggles in the community -- you would be able to get up every day and read about his struggles on his blog. He would download his speeches to podcasts.
Okay, we threw that one in there. It was from a certain Donna Baxter of thesoulpitt.com.
Rich Fitzgerald, President of Allegheny County Council, is succinct:
He would want people to stop focusing on the color of each other's skin and start dealing with the very real socioeconomic injustices that exist in our society. Bridging that gap is how we will achieve Dr. King's dream.
Similar material from Councilman Ricky Burgess, District 9:
Certainly, Dr. King would continue his consistent concern for social justice. He would also continue with an advocacy for the nation's poor. Toward the end of his life, his concern became more and more for the nation's poor of all races. There are some issues on which he would certainly be on the front lines. One is education. ... The most common grade given to an African-American in America is an F. I think Dr. King would also encourage African-Americans to participate in the political process.
I think that Dr. King would be trying to lead an inter-racial campaign for equity and justice.
African-Americans in Pittsburgh are not only doing badly as a group, they're doing badly in relation to African-Americans in other cities.
Finally, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:
If Martin Luther King were here today, he would be championing the fight to ensure that our neighborhoods, our leadership and our workforces be more unified and harmonious.
We have to interrupt here. Dr. King was actually a troublemaker, was he not? He wasn't known to lose sleep over legislators doing their jobs.
If I could engage him with us today in the City of Pittsburgh, I would ask him to travel with our DiverseCity 365 Road Show, which focuses on recruiting more minorities for professional city careers, to help us develop a more dynamic and diverse staff that both represents and serves our residents.
In turn, King surely would have been amused all by the political window-dressing.
When Dr. King got around to demanding justice of our mayor regarding public land and public processes, how do you think he would have responded when he and his people were accused of asking for hand-outs?