Season of Justice 2015
Dr. Walter Greason
Norristown Times Herald
13 January 2015
How does democracy work? For too many, it resembles the Olympics. Every four years, charismatic personalities compete on a national stage to become a gold medal winner – a President, a Senator, or a Representative. In between those pageants, few voters pay attention and the machinery of government is ignored. Ava DuVernay’s powerful film “Selma” provides a counterargument against this status quo by showing how daily, continual public protest is the heart of democracy. As the millions stand up for accountability after the miscarriages of justice that have replaced law enforcement in too many communities, everyone must consider their contribution to democracy at the local level.
Democracy is not volunteerism. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asserted a courage that transcended the single day of service that his holiday has come to represent. In the Norristown metropolitan area, stretching from Bensalem to Reading to Exton to Wilmington, Delaware to Deptford, New Jersey, activist programs at Rowan University, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Villanova University distinguish the excellence of this region’s leaders. These initiatives challenge the idea that a just and equal democracy can operate based on systemic oppression of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and the poor. The history of slave trading in the region is just beginning to be excavated. The patterns of persistent segregation and wealth inequality must become common knowledge. In every school and every mall, Dr. King urges us to let freedom ring throughout our lives.
Thousands of communities share this struggle for a free society. In the Freehold metropolitan area in New Jersey, defined by communities as diverse as Middletown, Woodbridge, Princeton, Lakewood, and Toms River, a new vision of global equality and inclusion has taken shape over the last twenty years. The area has an even deeper history of slave trading and ownership than Norristown does. Segregation and intergenerational poverty still hobble millions of people’s lives. Yet, from Rutgers University to Princeton University to Monmouth University, leaders and entrepreneurs stand up together to create business-community partnerships that create new opportunities around the world. When Dr. King condemned the triple evils of militarism, poverty, and racism, he opened the door for today’s visionaries to create peace, wealth, and equity.
The “Season of Justice” is a time connecting the holiday celebrations of Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa to the dedicated activism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month. It is approximately 100 days to start every year with a new commitment to family, community, nation, and world. In 2015, this season focuses on generating $5000 in new savings for every family, creating new streams of income for every household, and organizing every community to shape their local politics and government. It is the next step in preventing future tragedies that continue patterns of segregation and inequality. Now is the time.
Dr. Walter Greason founded the International Center for Metropolitan Growth (ICMG_International Center for Metropolitan Growth) and is the author of the award-winning historical monograph, Suburban Erasure. He is also the primary instructor for the “Engines of Wealth” initiative at Monmouth University. His work is available on Twitter (@worldprofessor / @icmgrowth), Facebook, LinkedIn, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). For bookings (workshops and speaking engagements), contact NJ History (email@example.com).