Members and Allies,
The Thanksgiving Holiday is time to remember our connections – people, places, and events that have benefited our lives. This year my Thanksgiving had a “prequel” – the vacation trip that my wife Dorothy and I took to Selma and Montgomery, AL in October.
At a time in U.S. history when injustice and cruelty are very visible, Dorothy and I needed inspiration. We started at the excellent National Parks Service Interpretive Center located next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There we followed the historical path from the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson to the beating of John Lewis and other protestors on the bridge and the march from Selma to Montgomery.
In Montgomery, we visited the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University, a church Dr. Martin Luther King Junior had pastored and the parsonage in which his family had lived. We went to the Civil Rights Memorial and dipped our hands in a fountain marked by the names of many martyrs who gave their lives to end legal discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and voting.
When we listen to the news today, we can easily slide into despair, focusing on injustice, hate speech, and current attacks on past civil rights victories. Let us never forget what our ancestors have done to move us forward to our current situation, fraught with danger, but also pregnant with possibilities. The spirit of justice that enabled John Lewis, Amelia Boynton and others to move toward their goal, despite the wall of state troopers ahead of them, is still moving among us.
That spirit has mobilized Empower Missouri for more than 115 years. Founded in 1901, as the Missouri Conference on Charities and Corrections, we have operated under four names, but always as our state’s conscience around basic human needs and fairness.
Re-branding as Empower Missouri in 2014, we continue our relentless pursuit of justice, most recently securing legislation in St. Louis City to protect renters from illegal lockouts. We are actively working on furthering our defined goals for 2018, which include protecting the safety net, finally passing “Raise the Age” (thereby increasing the age an adolescent can be charged as an adult to 17), and modernizing how HIV is viewed under the law.
On this #GivingTuesday, please take a moment to offer thanks for the history of justice advocates, locally and globally. Donations to Empower Missouri – and your advocacy with us – place you squarely in that line of justice champions, moving Missouri and our world toward equity and healthy communities for all.
In gratitude and justice,
Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director