Pfleger honors millennials for their positive social justice activism
By Chinta Strausberg
In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, Father Michael L. Pfleger paid tribute to scores of Chicago youth between the ages of 18-35 on Sunday, January 13, 2019. For their activism, he credited them with being social justice change agents during a year of political and social unrest.
In an effort to erase the division between the Joshua and Moses generation, Father Pfleger said, ”We have to break this crazy division between younger and older generations.
“It’s a mentality, a spirit, a thirst, a hunger, a freedom that is within you that causes you to be a liberator and not just someone who speaks about liberation,” Pfleger said. “The millennials have been very active in Chicago.”
Pfleger ticked off a series of results attributed to the protests of millennials. They included the removal of a former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was voted out of office. Pfleger added, “Now we have a mayoral race coming up.”
He reminded them of Alvarez’s role in the initial hiding of the video containing the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. When she finally released the video years later, it prompted daily protests by the youth because the verbal and written reports contradicted the visuals.
Father Pfleger thanked the youth for their work, struggles, vision and sacrifice. “It’s never about you. It’s about all of us,” said Pfleger. Van Dyke was found guilty of murder and is awaiting sentencing, and three other policemen who collaborated his false report are also awaiting sentencing.
After being introduced by Father Pfleger, the guest speaker, Angela Rye, looking at a sea of youth and told them to say, “I see you, and I love you. That’s a pretty good place to start.” Saying they are not alone, Rye added, “The love has to be what drives your work. You have to understand that our activism is not optional. It’s a calling. It’s required of us to be good stewards. It’s required of us for the next generation so what we pass on from an ancestral memory standpoint is positivity of power, greatness and favor that we always walk in.”
Rye is an attorney and a CNN/NPR political commentator/analyst and the principal of Impact Strategies, a D.C. political advocacy firm that trains youth. She is also the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress.
Referring to her mantra, “I am love and power,” Rye said, “If we choose not to abuse our power but to use it to the benefit of neighbor in a spirit of love, we can change the whole world. The task may look daunting.
“You do have a crazy president, but you can still win this battle and this fight, walking in the spirit of love, walking in God’s authority for you, walking in God’s purpose for you. Never put your head down, never be discouraged. Ya’ll got this, and I love you,” Rye told the youth.
Pfleger leads blue candle peace march in honor of Dr. King’s 90th birthday
In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday, Father Michael L. Pfleger late Tuesday night, held a silent, blue candle march. It represented a call for peace and an end to the gun violence that ironically took the lives of 589 Chicagoans in 2018 and Dr. King 51 years ago.
Father Pfleger spoke about Kings’ birthday—his 90th birthday and how 40,000 people were killed in America from gun violence in 2018. That’s more than in the last 58 years.
Pfleger said honoring Dr. King does not mean remembering him but rather “living like him every single day.” Pfleger hopes that Gov. Pritzker and whoever emerges as the new mayor “will commit themselves to deal with the root causes of violence…the unemployment, the bad schools, those coming back from incarceration with no help, no resources, no opportunities, and no mental health. We want them to commit to equaling the playing field.”
Pfleger challenged everyone to commit themselves to non-violence. “Dr. King said it’s either non-violence or non-existence, and we are moving to non-existence. We are losing our children before our eyes….” He asked people to choose non-violence. “Don’t use Dr. King’s name unless you’re going to do and live like Dr. King lived.”
Father Pfleger said he got the idea to use blue lights from the United Nations, which named the color blue as the light for peace in this country. “That is why we use blue lights at Saint Sabina and that is why we carry candles with blue lights.
Father Pfleger began his blue light peace campaign nearly a decade ago. It was adopted by the city of Chicago and on Tuesday, downtown buildings were lit up in blue in honor of Dr. King.
“I just thought on Dr. King’s week we should be lighting up our city,” he said. “We lit it up for the Chicago Bears, for the Hawks, for the Bulls. Why not light it up for Dr. King? We should not only remember him by his birthday” but by our actions.
Annette Nance-Holt, vice president of Purpose Over Pain and the mother of slain Blair Holt, said the silent march “shows the significance of someone’s birthday and how they could have still been here but because of guns and gun violence, they were taken away. I think that is the significance of how it continues to go on even today but at a greater rate.”
Asked if she thought gun violence will be reduced, Nance-Holt, who is also the Chicago Fire Department Deputy Commissioner said, “If the legislators and lawyers work hard and get the community to turn around and speak about what is going on like who is doing the murdering, I think we can turn it around but we can’t be silent. People have to have the courage to talk and say what is going on.”
Pam Bosley, the Violence Prevention Manager at Saint Sabina and co-founder of Purpose Over Pain who lost her son, Terrell, 18, on April 4, 2006, said while she was marching she thought about Dr. King and how he would have been 90 years old today and her son would have turned 31 years old on January 5.
“Although Dr. King was killed years ago, we are still living in the same situation—with Blacks being killed every day and nothing is being done about it,” Bosley said. “It seems like Black lives don’t matter. It’s been going on for years. It’s like nobody seems to care. That is why their murder cases remain unsolved.”
Holding blue candles, they marched East on 79th to Halsted and then proceeded North to the Chicago Police Department to pay honor to the policemen who were killed in the line of duty during 2018.
Upon returning to the church, Father Pfleger led them in the Civil Rights song, “We Shall Overcome.”