Letter: On historical realities and present commitments in honoring Dr. King

To the Editor:

On January 12th, an article was posted titled, “Churches, KKK to rally” from the Piqua Daily Call, September 22nd, 1999. It might have been the same morning that I had as usual awakened early, made coffee, turned on the TV, and for some divine purpose, began watching a Smithsonian Channel program on the KKK in Ohio and the making of their promotional movie around Columbus.

That post made me a little curious about Piquads participating in that movement, and so later, I went to the Piqua Library and started looking through their Vertical Files. There were two related articles from 1923. The one mentioning names that had been referenced in the Smithsonian documentary involved the murder of a key KKK official in Atlanta, Ga. The other 1923 article was even more spiritually on point for me and had a local focus, “Many See Parade Saturday Night.” In the 1999 article “Churches, KKK to rally,” the writer proclaimed, “One promotes unity and the other separation.” A further distinction between the two groups stated, “The Celebration of Unity has been organized by local churches to provide an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of Piqua and the positive things which diversity makes possible.”

But in looking back at the 1923 article, we find Piquads being entertained, open-minded to the enlistment of membership within the Klan or simply supportive of their racist ideology. Today, a lot has changed, but for every two steps forward in the struggle for diversity and inclusion, modern day political ideologues have developed cultural wedge issues as a means of taking one giant step backward to the Jim Crow era in Voting Rights and in dishonor of Piqua’s William M. McCulloch.

Unfortunately, many of our churches, Christian organizations, businesses, and public schools have turned a blind eye to the deception, misinformation, and outright lying of political culture intent upon preserving its place of power and privilege. They have the eyes of their forefathers and will not see, and ears but they will not hear. They have feet running to bow down and embrace a political altar of authoritarian idolatry and a determined will to tolerate political violence.

This year in observance of the King Holiday, remember too Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and let us stand up and speak out again with the commitment “to celebrate the diversity of Piqua and the positive things which diversity makes possible.”

Additional consideration: https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/17-inspirational-quotes-by-martin-luther-king-jr-about-speaking-up-when-it-matters.html.

— Larry Hamilton

Piqua