Recently, we celebrated the 57th anniversary of the historic National March for Freedom and Jobs in Washington, DC where Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his famed “I have a dream,” speech. Thousands gathered on the mall last week to renew the call for racial equality and justice.
Fast forward, and today we have a president who is actively, intentionally and personally fomenting racial division — all in an effort to improve his chance of reelection. The consequences of his incompetence, his complete abdication of the presidential role of peacemaker and his inability to find words of healing for this country have been severe. We all feel the rising tension.
But we cannot allow him to guide us into division and hatred. Although here in Los Angeles we have not experienced week after week of protests like Portland or Kenosha, we have our own issues: entrenched poverty, soaring unemployment, a housing crisis and ongoing racial tension with law enforcement. What does all this have to do with the race for CD10?
In ordinary times, the role of a city council member is primarily to manage land use issues, oversee the City’s budget and provide quality-of-life services to residents — garbage collection, street sweeping, tree trimming, etc. But these are not ordinary times.
Mark Ridley-Thomas is running for office because while he knows how to deliver services and fix potholes and trim trees, build affordable housing and re-house people experiencing homelessness, he also has experience in non-violent organizing for civil rights. It is his leadership abilities we need now.
Mark Ridley-Thomas understands that we must build coalitions to effectively combat racism and injustice.
He started Days of Dialogue with his wife Avis, an accomplished mediator, to bring diverse communities together for critical conversations on women’s equality, community safety, racial justice, and responding to hate crimes. As we face multiple crises in Los Angeles and across the nation, we need leaders like him on the City Council, bringing people together to get things done.
“Mark Ridley-Thomas has dedicated his career in public service to building bridges across communities to combat racism and injustice. We need him on the City Council, working for change,” said Mary Keipp, a community activist and West Adams resident.
We must do more than just resist this president’s call to chaos. Los Angeles must lead the nation and demonstrate what it means for coalitions to unite, collaborate and make a more just society for all.