Address was delivered on 06/06/2020
Four centuries ago, our forbearers created a pair of separate and unequal societies. One was white, privileged, and free while the other was black, impoverished, and enslaved. Twelvescore and four years ago, our forbearers subscribed to the propositions that all people are created equal, endowed by their creator with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that human governments exist to protect these rights. Recent events in Louisville and throughout the nation have demonstrated painfully that, while the ideal of 1776 has been actualized partially, it has yet to supersede and replace the dual societies of 1619. Louisville persists largely as a pair of separate and unequal communities; in fact, Louisville remains one of our nation’s most geographically segregated cities.
The arc of justice dictates that Louisville and our nation cannot long endure as a bifurcated pair of unequal societies. We are all one humanity. In the end, we will sink or swim together. For this reason, we must insist that our elected and appointed leaders become more accountable for their behavior, not only through their internal channels, but also to the body politic. More importantly, we must behave accountably ourselves to epitomize the accountability we demand from others. Let us conduct our struggle on the highest ethical plane. As we state our expectations, let us exhibit the dignity and discipline with which we desire to imbue our political discourse. Moreover, as some condemn the recent "shooting and looting," which continue to polarize our city and nation, let us acknowledge the fears and frustrations which have given birth to such destructive behaviors.
The difficulties born of four centuries of inequality will not disappear in and of themselves. We must shine the bright light of ethical activism and rational discourse to overcome our nation’s current darkness. Let us strive to replace the broad road of violence and retribution, which leads to death, with wisdom’s narrow path of forbearance and self-sacrifice, which leads to renewed life. Let us resolve to ensure that those killed tragically did not die in vain. May our response to these deaths bring our city and nation closer to a new era during which it will no longer be necessary to remind the public that black lives matter.
by Reverend Dr. Randall C. Webber
President of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association
Editor who first published the forgotten typescript of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Eulogy for the Young Victims of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing.