Dear ALIRP friends and partners,
Happy Martin Luther King Day. I hope each of you will find some way to honor him today. I wanted to share what I will do today.
Since moving to Birmingham in 2019, I have spent every MLK day reading the Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It is in this letter that he outlines the premise, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This underscores the civil rights movement and is a principle that we, at ALIRP, also hold as our vision: we envision a world where all refugees and asylum seekers find safety and live with dignity.
The Letter from a Birmingham Jail helps me reflect on how far the city of Birmingham has come and how far we have left to go. I'm not sure how many of you have been to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham but it is worth the trip if you are in the area! It is a place to honor and pay respect to those who suffered through the severe levels of segregation that existed here and that still permeates much of the region. Additionally, near the end of the exhibit hall are sections on the global migration crisis, human rights violations abroad, and immigration reform in the US.
So, to further honor Dr. King, I will spend time serving ALIRP by preparing materials for our upcoming grant-writing programs, working with some of our current advocacy initiatives, and articulating plans for our upcoming (annual) strategic initiatives. This year, I found a YouTube video of Dr. King reading his speech and listened to it. Hearing him speak and outline the steps towards non-violent campaigns, I found that ALIRP practices these same efforts which makes me feel more connected to him and his message. Hearing him speak about the violence African Americans experienced here in Birmingham, I am reminded of the violence of our partners at ALIRP, who are seeking asylum in the US from where they came and from the experiences here in our immigration system. Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Taryn, wrote more about this in her series on Navigating Barriers.
I am humbled to live here, in Birmingham, where so many people have come through this city to fight for justice and human rights. To walk the same steps and carry on the work Dr. King so clearly outlines and explains in his letter is a true calling. So, today, I will spend my day reflecting on this and putting into action the principles that Dr. King wrote here in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 before Congress passed the Civil Rights law in 1964.
Meredith Gartin, Board President