Full sessions on can be found on the retreat’s Vimeo page. Here are some highlights:
Michelle Lugalia-Hollon on becoming a beloved community.
Michelle Lugalia-Hollon: Realizing Beloved Community
“These are the times to grow our souls” -Grace Lee Boggs
Towards the end of his life, as Dr. King shaped the Poor People’s Campaign, he spoke widely about the concept of achieving Beloved Community. He defined this concept as a society grounded in love, justice and solidarity, where “all people can share the wealth of the earth.” Central to the idea of Beloved Community was an acknowledgment that “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Simply put, no one is free until we are all free.
King invited us to make achieving Beloved Community the goal of our work, and he insisted that it was impossible to achieve structure transformation without equipping ourselves with the tools that the work required. He warned, “One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”
Grace Lee Boggs, a leader and activist in the civil rights movement, encouraged all of us working in systems change to take the time to grow our souls.
What did she mean and why was it important?
Boggs and her husband were particularly strong critics of Dr. King and his commitment to non-violence as a grounding practice. In her later years, she looked back at MLK’s stance and recognized that his pursuit of structure transformation was fueled by an understanding that in order to change the world, we have to invest in self-transformation, in growing our souls.
Going beyond Dr. King, Boggs pushed us to consider that our self-transformation should include activating our radical imagination. That if we are to be the change we want to see in the world, we must imagine a different world. That realizing Beloved Community requires us to do more than to make demands of the state—to ask those who oppress us to stop or to ask others to recognize our humanity. She pushed us to think and live dialectically, to call out the change that we need, demand it AND do our best to create a world that meets our needs. To be AND to co-create the change.
Quoting John Donne, in one his last sermons, Dr. King reminded us, “…never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Many of us have responded to the bell’s toll. We are doing the hard work to establish heaven on earth, to create Beloved Community. Dr. King and Boggs, invite us to ask ourselves: Do our tools match the demands of the tasks at hand? Are we taking the time to grow our souls? What are we doing to spark our radical imagination? Are we being the change we want to see in the world?
I am grateful to the H. E. Butt Foundation for creating the space and opportunity for us to focus on self-transformation and to grow our souls.
What is your hope for your neighborhood?
What are you mourning?
If Racism Were a Cancer
By Dacrie Brooks
If racism were a cancer, we probably wouldn’t hesitate to say it doesn’t discriminate.
If racism were a cancer, we would admit and submit to the thought that it only gets exacerbated when it’s hidden, disguised, under scrutinized.
If racism were a cancer, we wouldn’t be complicit. We’d be more explicit, more loud, calling out this cloud of darkness, heaviness that covers us wrapped in trauma, folded transgressions, while we obsess over who’s right, who’s wrong, and why?
If racism were a cancer, couldn’t we all agree that cancerous lumps are always deemed dangerous, and when they spread like dark spots, spores on moldy bread; we all pay the price.
If racism were a cancer, it would apply to all of us. Us the humans, black, white, brownish and all up aroundish… it’s not just you, me, or we. It’s us. It’s our history.
If racism were a cancer, you wouldn’t be so down to crown me inferior rank high as superior. Would it have to be so subliminal? If I were walking around your store, would you think me a criminal? Subliminally telling yourself, we couldn’t break bread at your table, out in public, no big deal, but behind closed doors. Now, that’s a different deal.
If racism were a cancer, you’d stop, drop, and quit giving me your leftovers. That would be over. But for real, I will keep on pressing. In this black body is shaped the ingenuity in its magnified form, majestic, wrapped in creativity and more. Your leftovers I’ve made into five course meals before.
How do sustain yourself in the work of building equity?