Martin Luther King Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens: Surprise Tear-Jerker

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martin Luther King 2.jpgUntil quite recently I wasn’t into monuments. I think it has to do with whatever generational/marketing segment I belong to: all about irony, and too aware of hypocrisy and injustice to spend my time remembering in any sort of predetermined “patriotic” manner.

A couple of weeks ago I finally noticed the Martin Luther King memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

I had passed the roaring waterfall at least a few dozen times on the way to the MOMA or a movie and never stopped because I didn’t know that pictures of King and civil rights leaders and inscribed King quotations were hiding there beneath it. Visitors walking under the fall can’t avoid a slight spray. When I made it to the end and read the final quotation, realizing that the water represented King’s dream of justice washing over us, my own tears spontaneously started flowing.  Seriously. I had to pull myself together before buying my movie tickets.

Now it is one of my favorite places in the city; each time I’ve returned since, I've left feeling fortified by the reminder of the civil rights struggle and committed to doing my small part to promote justice. Monuments can work as important, non-cheesy, living remembrances.

Now, as MLK Day approaches, I'm trying to fill myself in on the history of the civil rights movement. Here's a short quiz to spark your memory (I got 8 out of 12... time to brush up!).

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4 Comments

John Reid said:

Today I had the exact same experience. I had never been behind the water, and after going left to right reading the quotations of Dr. King. I could not help it, tears flowed freely from my eyes. I was very deeply moved and inspired by his words. I have never been on your blog before, but when I came home I googled Yerba San Francisco Martin Luther King and your page was in the list. I am going to find the quotes. I hope they are somewhere. Thank you for sharing your experience with me.

John H. Reid

Kyeann said:

Hi John -- I always meant to find the quotes but didn't get around to it. Thank you for your comment. It is excellent to see how moving a monument can be. I think it's one of the most special places in SF.

Zoe said:

I also was deeply moved by the words and sentiments at the monument---are they all from the I Have A Dream speech?

frances said:

I was just there today. The following are the quotes on the glass panels:

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression; and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are raising up as never before. (Translated into Tagalog)

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. (Translated into Japanese)

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. (Translated into Chinese)

We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important that people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. (Translated into Korean)

Through our scientific genius, we have made the world a neighborhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood. In a real sense, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools. (Translated into African Zulu)

There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; It is worth going to jail for. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self-respect. (Translated into Hebrew)

As the movement took hold, a revival of social awareness spread across campuses from Cambridge to California. It spilled over the boundaries of the single issue of desegregation and encompassed questions of peace, civil liberties, capital punishment and others. (Translated into Arabic)

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hall of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant, (Translated into Greek)

Men for years have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer the choice between violence and non-violence in this world. It’s non-violence or non-existence. (Translated into Italian)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Translated into Irish/Gaelic?)

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro Spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at Last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’ (Translated into African Ivory-coast)

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will and he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you; but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. (Translated into Spanish)

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Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyeann published on January 6, 2008 8:50 PM.

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