One has to wonder what this day means to the residents of our “Old Pueblo”.
A day off, participating in a march or reflection on the events of this week in our community, wondering what would Dr. King think or say?
What message would Dr. King convey to our youth, our elders and the community as a whole?
Certainly he would speak out against injustice and advocate for continued non-violent protest.
The darkness that has cast its shadow across our community was not created here but by the forces of shallow politicians who seek the glamour of public office at the expense of fundamental freedom and core values shared by the overwhelming majority, including Latinos.
Who would have imagined that in the first few weeks of 2012 books would be banned as censored material and removed from classrooms in TUSD because they might illuminate or heaven forbid instill the courage to speak out and stand against injustice, no matter who the is the victim or what power the persecutor possesses.
Who would have imagined that the values, teachings and leadership of Dr. King would be so violated just days before his day remembrance and celebration.
For Latinos, this MLK day is not one of celebration; too much has been taken, the wounds too deep and profound to be ignored.
Fortunately, Latinos are not without the skills and ability to respond in a manner deserving of the wrong inflicted but in complete adherence to the memory of Dr. King, non-violent protest.
We too know about the power of economic sanctions, how to exercise the power of our numbers within the “rules”.
For far too long TUSD has taken our property taxes and used our students as a means to fund a budget that does not reflect the best educational needs of Latino students, and the time has come to stop allowing TUSD to write checks on the backs of our youth; it is time to cut off TUSD access to “deseg” funds, to take away the piggy bank that allows TUSD to pick the pockets of every TUSD property owner with out a shred of accountability.
The reality is that every year TUSD becomes more segregated and the Arizona’s political leadership openly funds white flight across the state hoping for the day when public schools will cease to be viable.
And so as Latinos in TUSD respond with their economic sanctions, and our community demands an end to an arrogant and unresponsive school system, we will be working in the spirit and memory of Dr. King to build a new TUSD, one that serves every student irrespective of gender, color, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, disability, economic status, or status in this country.
Richard M. Martinez
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