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Unprecedented Coalition of Elected Officials, Immigrant Advocates, Civil Rights Leaders, and Religious Leaders

Plan Rally and Town Hall to Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy

Leaders to Issue Call for Public Dialogue to Protect Civil Liberties

Martin Luther King III, Congressman John Conyers, Anthony Romero, Jim Zogby, Karen Narasaki, and Rev. Al Sharpton Among Speakers

WHAT: In the aftermath of September 11, a diverse coalition of civil rights leaders, elected officials, immigrant advocates and religious groups will hold a rally and town hall discussion to explore how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would face today’s challenges to civil liberties.

WHEN: Noon until 2:30 PM on Saturday, January 19th


WHERE: The Washington DC Convention Center 900 9th Street, NW – Metro Center / Gallery Place Chinatown

WHO: Speakers Include:

Martin Luther King, III, Pres. Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Mahdi Bray, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Cecilia Munoz, National Council of La Raza

Karen K. Narasaki, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium

Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

Rev. Al Sharpton, Pres. of the National Action Network

Damu Smith, Civil Rights and Peace Activist,

Jim Zogby, Pres. of the Arab American Institute

**Others To Be Announced **

Supporters (still in formation):

American Civil Liberties Union, Arab American Institute, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Americans for Democratic Action, Armenian National Committee of

America, Black Leadership Forum, Blacks In Government, Black Voices for Peace, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,

Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers), Japanese Americans Citizens League, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Muslim Public

Affairs Council, National Action Network, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, National Black

Caucus of State Legislators, National Council of La Raza, Solidarity USA, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Tikkun Community


A Call For A Public Dialogue - January 19, 2002 ~ 12 Noon to 2:30 PM


Washington Convention Center ~ Washington, DC


Reflecting on Dr. King’s Legacy:


Interpretations on How He Would Have Handled the Challenges to Civil Liberties Today

National Leaders Speak Out


The significance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and the bravery of his work serve as important reminders this year about the need for an active and outspoken defense of civil liberties and civil rights in 2002. Of his many notable characteristics, Dr. King had the social insight and courage to challenge prevailing attitudes in the interest of protecting and making real the promise of democracy. He embodied qualities that are hallmarks of true American leadership: advocacy for free speech – including the right to petition one’s government for redress of grievances – the pursuit of liberty, equality and justice for all, concern about America’s moral authority at home and abroad and a resolute quest for peace.


America is at a crossroads: we can either be observers or we can be active participants in shaping this nation’s response to terrorism. We must rise to the occasion and demand that our government fight terrorism in a way that does not offend constitutional principles and American values.


As leaders of civil rights and civil liberties organizations, we are united in our concern that the United States of America defends our nation from acts of violence and terrorism and that it prosecutes those individuals responsible for the horrific acts of September 11, 2001. We mourn the devastating loss of life of thousands of individuals and the untold suffering that their families and communities have endured in the aftermath of this tragic event. We support those rescue workers, law enforcement officials, charities, community and religious leaders and elected officials who are doing their part to restore the social and economic loss that the events of September 11 have wrought – whether it be the loss of loved ones or the economic and employment setbacks that have affected a vast number of workers and families within our borders.


Too often during times of national crises like these, the government has used the threat of investigation or actual investigations to silence social justice, civil rights and anti-war advocacy. We need only recall how Japanese Americans were illegally detained during World War II to realize how national origin can be used as the sole basis for incarceration and scapegoating. We need only to look at the ample evidence of government surveillance (put forth by the Church Committee investigation in 1976 and other subsequent congressional investigations) to know that civil rights, anti-poverty and anti-war advocacy can be imperiled by those in government who disagree with us.


The uses and misuses of government power has been a problem of national concern even before the events of September 11. During the last few years congressional hearings and reports have documented for example, evidence of racial and national origin profiling, wrongful detention and brutality by some members of the police. But Since September 11, Congress has given federal law enforcement broad new powers that will be difficult and painstaking to challenge in any court of law. From secret military tribunals to expanded wiretapping  authority, from eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations to riffling through confidential business and student records, from rounding up and detaining immigrants in secret to questioning men merely based on their national origin – these issues all raise significant moral and constitutional questions. Not too long ago, during Dr. King’s lifetime, people who challenged the government were labeled as communists and terrorists. And even now we have an Attorney General who challenges the patriotism of those who disagree with him and accuses them of aiding and abetting the enemy.


As the parallels between his lifetime and present day become apparent, it is our belief that a necessary and legitimate war against terrorism should not be used to permanently expand unchecked government power or to diminish the Bill of Rights. Government should use its power to fight terrorism, but it should also use its power to resolve, not compound, pre-existing law enforcement and civil rights problems that are crying out for resolution. We call upon you to join us so that Dr. King’s deeds and principles are made familiar to this generation of Americans. By calling on his legacy, we will be better equipped and strengthened to act on the issues of our day.


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