Hill Talk: Forum Asks: What Would MLK Do?

Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:38pm

That question will be posed Friday night at a forum hosted by Americans for Democratic Action. The group has invited several guests to discuss how civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. would respond to the most critical problems that the country is facing.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will give opening remarks and then she and other speakers, including professor Sylvia Hill, co-founder of the Free South Africa Movement; Stoney Cook, former executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and the Rev. Dennis Wiley of the Covenant Baptist Church, will respond to the topic question.

Michael J. Wilson, national director of Americans for Democratic Action, said he “did not want to put words in anyone’s mouth,— so the speakers will focus on whichever current issues that they believe King would have been most passionate about.

Although he isn’t setting talking points for the panelists, Wilson has his own opinions about what the revered activist would have thought.

“I think Dr. King would be a critic of the war in Afghanistan. I think he would be a critic of our economy, that we have not done enough to get people back to work,— Wilson said. “There’s a quote from him about health care being the ultimate unfairness in this country, and I think he’d have some very strong views about what we ought to be doing about health care.—

After the official speakers have given their thoughts, audience members will have a chance to get in on the conversation. They will be able to ask questions of the panelists, and Wilson said he expects some people will “want to make their own little speeches.—

Wilson added that he wants to see the discussion stay at a “high level,— with a tone and exchange that King would approve of.

“To the extent that we’re having a discussion, I think that’s healthy,— Wilson said. “He’d want us to discuss it, but I think he’d also want people to act on it.—

The event will be held at 5 p.m. Friday in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-318. Admission is free and tickets are not required, but the organization is asking that people RSVP because space is limited. Call 202-785-5980 or e-mail mjwilson@adaction.org.