King City mayor reflects on MLK's relevance today
King City Mayor Ken Gibson made no bones about the situation the world currently finds itself in while addressing a virtual audience during a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"The world, the country is in turmoil," Gibson said during the Jan. 18, Zoom meeting. "There's a lot of anger. There's a lot of resistance to doing the right thing."
The event, called Awareness in Action, was hosted by the Metro Race Unity Team, the Tualatin Public Library and the Tigard Baha'i community. Guest King speakers included Rivergrove Mayor Walt Williams, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider and Leonard Bell, who serves on the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Portland; Jim Harrision, a history and humanities professor and the former chair of the Social Science Department on the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College; and Henry Lyon, a Tualatin educator and blogger; and students from Tigard High School.
"The reality of it is we have to be in a situation where we speak up," said Gibson, who has served on the King City Council since 2008 and has been mayor of the city since 2016. "It doesn't make any difference whether you're black or white. We have an obligation, we have a responsibility when we see that things are not right, and that things are, in fact, wrong, that we have to speak about it."
Gibson said, "Martin Luther King said that he came to the conclusion there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself. Nobody else can speak for you – that's the only way we can make change, is to really speak the truth."
The mayor of King City reflected on his life, as he grew up during turbulent times in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"We were sheltered a lot from the realities of what was going on in the South where people were fighting for just the right to vote. It is mind-boggling, we are still fighting for that same right today."
Looking back on the year 2020, Gibson told the virtual audience, "You can go back and say the beginning of this movement for today's struggle started with the murder of George Floyd. During that year of 2020, it gave us an opportunity to see exactly how people feel about race, exactly how people feel about this country and we know exactly how many people feel about wanting to be better."
Moving forward, Gibson stressed the importance of arming ourselves with knowledge.
"If you want to do more, you need to know more," Gibson said. "Educate yourselves. There is a lot of wonderful information out there that will help you to understand the struggle that black men and women, and other people of color, have gone through and go through today."
According to Gibson, "One of the other things that Martin Luther King said, he said the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people. We cannot be silent. We must do everything we can to resist the rhetoric. We must do everything that we can to resist the propaganda and we must do everything that we can to make sure that we are all created equal in the eyes of God. And that's the reality."
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