To Martin Luther King Jr., the "Beloved Community" was not a utopian dream but a realistic vision of what our cities and towns will become when enough people stand up and say 'no more.'
No more hungry children.
No more people struggling with mental illness left to fend for themselves.
No more homeless men and women sleeping under bridges, in their cars or on a friend's couch.
No racism. No bigotry. No war.
Conflict - between people, groups or nations - would be resolved peacefully.
As people nationwide prepare to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, two workshops on Sunday will start people talking about what King's 'Beloved Community' would look like here in Bucks County.
But Sunday's workshops are not designed to be just an annual event. Organizers say the time is start real cultural change.
"In light of what has been happening, with the deadly shootings the last few years, a one-and-done event is no longer enough for us," Barbara Simmons told Patch on Thursday. "Our goal is to get people into action. How do we really bring Dr. King’s beloved community alive and make it real?"
Simmons is the director of The Peace Center, the Langhorne-based agency that has been "working for community peace and social justice" since 1982.
The Peace Center is collaborating with The Bucks County Committee on Interracial Harmony, Interfaith Community of Lower Bucks and the Bucks County Human Relations Council to organize Sunday's events.
The public is encouraged to participate in the workshops, Simmons said. Attendees will be divided into small groups for discussion of three main questions:
- What is your vision of a beloved community?
- What aspects of your current community fit the profile of a beloved community?
- How would you create a beloved community?
"Some of the topics may be controversial, but the reality is, each of us needs to play a role," Simmons said. "How do we prevent the kind of violence that has been happening, that makes us feel helpless and hopeless?"
Doylestown Mayor Libby White will give opening remarks at the Doylestown event, and Marlene Pray, a social justice activist who also sits on Borough Council, will help lead the discussions.
"The timing is very important, not only because of Martin Luther King day but the horror of what happened in Newtown, Conn., and the feeling that we need to be talking and acting locally about building community and nonviolence," Pray said Thursday.
"I’m hopeful about residents of the area getting together to talk about this on this historic weekend," she said. "We’re not just talking about holding hands and singing songs but about active, organized resistance to oppression."
The workshops will be held at Doylestown Presbyterian Church and at the Bristol Senor Center on Sunday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The family-friendly event is open to all ages.
For more information or to RSVP, visit the event's Facebook page.