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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dear Hannah: LEarning (Meeting The President)

Dear Hannah,

Once upon a time, the President gave a group of African-American community leaders a seat at the table.

The leaders brought their own menu.



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"LEarning (Meeting The President)"
By Derrick Brown

I have volumes I-VI of "The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr." in our home library.

I think there are 7 total volumes now.

Stanford University produced a Website with all of these documents online.

Google has scanned the pages of the books and put them online.

Both efforts facilitate sharing its content.

Each volume provides document artifacts (speeches, sermons, papers, letters), a document calendar, and a timeline of events.

Each time I read a volume, I remember that every moment matters, and that MLK produced a lot of power in a short time.

I am also reminded that we have to study his approach and impact ... then embrace and extend that approach.

Reading this for pleasure is overwhelming and confusing.

Using it for research and wisdom earned through lessons learned is priceless.

Using it to discern signs of the times is a Godsend.

Let me share a story prompted by recent headlines ...

Once upon a time, the President gave a group of African-American community leaders a seat at the table.

The leaders brought their own menu.

It took a long time to make the meeting a reality - lots of letters & telegrams, and several more civil rights crises (like the desegregation of Little Rock, AR schools) for 29-year-old Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to convene a meeting with then President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 23, 1958.

King attended the meeting with 62-year-old National Urban League Executive Director Lester Granger, 69-year-old organizer A. Philip Randolph, and 57-year-old NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins.

Eisenhower was President from 1953 - 1961.

This meeting occurred in Eisenhower's 5th year as President.

King's group asked President Eisenhower for 3 things ...

1. To direct the Department of Justice to protect the Voting Rights Act.

2. To extend the life of the temporary Civil Rights Commission.

3. To convene a conference to discuss the peaceful integration of schools.

The meeting received mixed reactions.

Eisenhower aide Rocco Siciliano called the meeting an "unqualified success."

Siciliano also noted that MLK - despite his age - was the "intellectual soul of the group."

MLK's group had a sober view of the meeting, and remained dubious about Eisenhower's commitment to Civil Rights.

They knew that they would have to keep pressuring Eisenhower.

Civil Rights supporters and the African-American press criticized the meeting as a failure - because it failed to extract concrete commitments from President Eisenhower.

For what it is worth, though, in 2018 we have a Voting Rights Act, a Civil Rights Commission, and integrated schools.

Each of these marginal gains have their own hidden, long-term costs.

The revolution will not be televised.

'Cause it's not a show.

Nor is it an insulated, binary debate waged by wagging fingers, tongues, and twittering thumbs.

It is a slow, patient, strategic grind.

It is a story with no perfect characters, and no perfect outcomes or conclusions.

The story does have a documented blueprint, though.

We have to read, wrestle with, and apply its imperfect lessons.


About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2018 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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