Street Spirit was a decades-long effort by hundreds of writers and activists who defended the human rights of homeless people and gave a direct voice to some of the most oppressed, marginalized and voiceless members of our society.
The brave and strategically brilliant members of Moms 4 Housing have given the entire nation a wake-up call about the disastrous shortage of affordable housing and the power of civil disobedience to confront the injustices of gentrification and the eviction-for-profit system.
The ghosts of People’s Park still haunt us today, 50 years after the police and National Guard met unarmed demonstrators with overwhelming firepower. Restless spirits still demand to be heard, and seem to speak with special power in the springtime, bringing to mind the spring of 1969 when the Park was created. It was the very springtime of our generation’s struggles for peace and justice.
Reporting from “the shelters, back alleys, soup kitchen lines and slum hotels where mainstream reporters rarely or never visit,” Street Spirit runs stories on economic inequality and the daily grind of human rights violations that poor people face. It also chronicles the movement that is dramatically working for human rights.
Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin believed/ “Beauty will save the world.”/ By taking beauty to the shelter,/your flowers saved one part of it./ You smile in the spirit of Don Quixote:/ Free flowers for the poor/ could subvert the whole economy,/ beauty could ruin the banking system,/ kindness could wreck capitalism.
This is how a legacy is passed on to a new generation: Martin Luther King gave his life to spreading the message of nonviolence. After he was assassinated, Bernard Lafayette picked up the fallen torch, and passed it on to Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis. Now they are sharing this vision with the next generation.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta is a great sign of hope for all people caught up in the shattering experience of eviction. Their actions give us hope that we can overcome — no matter how powerful and well-entrenched the banks may be, no matter how many lawyers and lobbyists they employ.
Kazu Haga is dedicated to spreading Martin Luther King’s vision of the Beloved Community to the next generation. Rev. King believed that his philosophy of nonviolent resistance could be effective not just in the struggle against segregation, but also in the struggle against militarism, and in the struggle against economic injustice.
“From my conjecture and my observations, the assassination was designed to stop the work of Martin Luther King. And the reason I went and prepared myself for this work is because I wanted to make sure that those who attempted to assassinate Martin Luther King’s dream — missed.”