Devon Wilford-Said, 64, has spent nearly half a century fighting a grassroots version of Dr. Martin Luther King’s battle for equal rights.
I was one of hundreds of Baltimore residents who watched on March 29 the new documentary, “King in the Wilderness,” co-produced by Baltimore's cherished citizen, historian Taylor Branch (“Taylor Branch: King’s legacy about the future as much as the past,” March 28). This special screening at the Parkway Theater focused on the last years of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work.
While there can be little debate about tangible positive changes in the politics and culture of the United States since King's tragic assassination in April 1968 (many of which are currently being trampled by the Trump administration), the film also sent chills along my spine as I watched scenes of hate-spewing white folks verbally and physically assaulting marchers who wanted nothing more than justice. There were echoes of Charlottesville of 2017 in those scenes. There were reminders to us that fair housing practices are still far from the norm, even right here in Baltimore. There were scenes of inadequate educational provisions for black children, for poor children, for children who were not white and middle class, all of which reminded us that in 2018, we have yet to provide a fair education system for all our children right here in Baltimore.
Most of all, this wonderful and revealing film reminded me that we still have no long range plan for Baltimore in housing fairness, in education, in ending segregated residential patterns, in fair transportation provision and in employment opportunities. Clearly, we also have no long range plan yet for fair police practices and for community accountability processes that will provide oversight of our policing.
Honoring King with a holiday, honoring him with great films, honoring him by erecting monuments will be no substitute for honoring his memory and his life by creating conditions for real change in our communities where for too long, racism, poverty and unemployment have held sway. Now is the time for action on all these issues.