On Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, Salt Lake Community College presented Mildred Sparks, director of the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, and Dr. Howard Chuck Foster with the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award.
The award was part of a larger celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day that included “The Meeting,” a play performed from January 12 to January 14, an address by Dr. Anthony Farley, the 2012 Martin Luther King Human Rights Distinguished Speaker on January 17 and an open forum discussion on Thursday, January 19.
“Martin Luther King was guided in his mission as a revolutionary by love,” Farley said.
Farley’s Tuesday address focused on the structures that King faced while working toward civil rights.
“Love has a structure. Relationships have a structure. Violence has a structure,” Farley said. It is the structural violence that King recognized as the evil of our time.
The trinity that King identified in the structure of violence was greed, which Farley equated to capitalism, militarism and racism. Farley said you can’t get rid of just one because they all work together to oppose love.
Farley believes that the country should celebrate King by remembering those things which were central to King’s mission. King believed that everyone should have a guaranteed job and those unable to work should have a guaranteed income.
“It should fall like the quality of mercy,” Farley said.
King was also for rigid quotas at all levels of business, not just the lower levels but upper management as well. Farley said it would be corrupt to leave them out.
The concept that King put forward is called the “Beloved Community,” in which everyone was guaranteed a vote in addition to the job, income and affirmative action at all levels.
At the Open Forum Session on Thursday, Dean John McCormick participated in a conversation with Farley and the audience.
“King’s legacy has been corrupted,” Farley said. “It has been made to serve those powers and principalities that he was opposing.”
Farley said that money is allowed to dictate how people’s lives will be. It makes people sit in the back and not have health care because very few of us challenge money.
He returned to the idea of the trilogy of racism, capitalism and militarism and how the all contribute to segregating people even in a society that thinks segregation is over.
Farley characterized King’s speech on April 4, 1967 as King’s Gethsemane. King knew he wouldn’t live for long after the speech. He was killed exactly one year later, on April 4, 1968.
“For King, the mission of the Christian is to take up the cross,” said Farley. To celebrate the holiday, Farley said we can’t bury the living message, which is one of radical change.
“The country thinks of itself as a Christian country,” said Farley. Yet, there is this god of the market and he works through our greed. “Isn’t that Satan?”
While money segregates us in housing, in education, in health and in literacy, Farley was still hopeful that things can get better.
“Things are always possible,” said Farley, “and they happen in a moment.”