The streets were alien to me. I was defenseless. Cops and security guards hassled me for just being in a particular area or store and minding my own business. And when night descended, I was scared out of my wits sleeping in doorways. I became guarded and hyper-alert.
When I became poor, I learned that there are big jars of sugar and entire pitchers of milk available free to anyone who buys a cup of coffee. You can add enough sugar (carbohydrate) and milk (protein and fat) to relieve your hunger for a couple of hours.
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin accused ICE of undermining her city’s devastated economy in the middle of a recession. “Their firing is a violation of their human rights. When they say that [immigration] raids are targeting criminals, it’s not true. People who are just trying to make a living are being targeted big time.”
Rhode Island has already passed a Homeless Bill of Rights. Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut and Missouri are joining California in calling for one. A Homeless Bill of Rights is particularly significant today. The federal government has abandoned any pretense of its responsibility to “ensure safe, decent and affordable” housing for the poorest people.
In a city full of poets, there are few whose very lives are poetry. Carlos was one whose whole life was poetry. He radiated kindness and good will. No one can remember hearing Carlos say an unkind word about another person. His phone message was a musical invitation that included waltzing bears.
Martin was attuned to the Hebrew prophets, and that was their constant message: Don’t talk about loving God or being religious unless you stand with the outcasts and the weak. Jesus said the same thing. There’s no way to understand Martin’s urgency about standing with the poor without taking into consideration his deepest religious grounding.
Martin de Porres was a defender of homeless people, a healer of the sick, a protector of unwanted animals, and the patron saint of all victims of racial prejudice. Martin broke through all the stereotypes and racial prejudices of his society and offered charity wherever it was needed.
The Freedom Movement left an enduring legacy by overcoming a brutal and seemingly all-powerful form of segregation that Vincent Harding calls a “terroristic system” of violent subjugation. Its legacy now extends far beyond America’s shores, for it has ignited the hopes of millions of people waging struggles for freedom overseas.