Buoyed by a strongly-worded proclamation from the Falls Church City Council adopted this Monday in support, a coalition of local non-profit and pro-civil rights organizations have teamed up to encourage public participation in two key events this Monday, Jan. 16, organized in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr., Day.
Calling the holiday a “Day of Action and Justice,” the event organizers will include an annual short march up South Washington St. (Route 29) from the site of the Tinner Hill Civil Rights monument, the arch in front of the Target on S. Washington to the Falls Church Episcopal.
Citizens will gather at 10 a.m. at the Civil Rights arch for some speeches by local dignitaries, and at 11 a.m. the march will commence up to the church three blocks away.
At noon inside the church, a panel discussion will include Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, the elected commonwealth attorney for Falls Church and Arlington, on the subject of “How to Be an Anti-Racist.”
Dehganti-Tafti has been a pioneer in the national movement for “restorative justice,” aimed at ending and purging records of marijuana and other “victimless crimes” convictions. She has announced that she will be seeking election to a second term this November, and will be facing a Democratic primary challenge this June..
Dehganti-Tafti will be joined on this Monday’s panel by the Rev. Dr. J. Lee Hill Jr., of the Virginia Episcopal Diocese Mission for Racial Justice and Healing. Following that panel, the public will have an opportunity to connect with local organizations to find volunteer opportunities.
Among the organizations present will be the event sponsors the Tinner Hill Foundation, the Social Justice Committee of Falls Church and Vicinity, Homestretch, Inc. the Bailey’s Crossroads Shelter, the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Arlington-based Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR). Other sponsors of the events Monday include the Bolay Kitchen, recently opened in Falls Church, and the Falls Church News-Press.
Welcoming the panel discussion will be the Rev Burl Salmon, senior rector at the Falls Church, and Assistant Rector Matthew Dumont-Machowski.
The F.C. City Council proclamation, passed by voice vote of the Council unanimously and signed by Mayor David Tarter, affirmed that “the City of Falls Church is a welcoming and respectful place for people of all faiths, all races, all cultures, all sexual orientations and all backgrounds.”
It adds, “The City Council wishes to reaffirm the long-standing community values of equality, inclusion and diversity and amplify efforts to support those values in a year that marks the City’s 75th anniversary,” noting that “in numerous proclamations in support of fair housing, disability rights, immigrant rights, and the rights of the LGBTQ.community, the City Council has always taken a strong stand in opposition to discrimination against anyone.”
It recognizes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “for leading the civil rights movement in this country, until his death by assassination in 1968, to advance civil rights for people of color in the U.S. through nonviolence and civil disobedience,” adding that Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”
It concludes, “Service to others is a hallmark of the American character, and central to how Falls Church meets the challenges faced by the City, the commonwealth and the nation and the Falls Church City council believes that ordinary citizens, armed with compassion and the willingness to serve, can come together to change the world and pursue the nation’s highest ideals.”