The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of May 20-26, 2020.
With summer fast approaching, Westlake Ace Hardware stores throughout the Kansas City area are gearing up to host their annual fan drive benefitting The Salvation Army. The fan drive will be held June 4-21.
During the fan drive, Westlake customers are asked to donate by rounding-up their purchase at the register. All donations go toward buying new box fans for the Kansas City Salvation Army. Westlake will kick off the fan drive with a donation of 100 fans.
This is the 14th year Westlake has raised money for fans. Last year, customers in the Kansas City area donated more than $20,000, equating to 1,434 fans given to the local Salvation Army for distribution to fellow citizens.
“The Salvation Army Fan Drive gives our friends and neighbors a way to keep cool and comfortable this summer. Especially now, with so many people in need, it’s an honor to sponsor this program and positively impact lives. I encourage everyone, if they are able, to donate,” Joe Jeffries, president and CEO of Westlake Ace Hardware said.
“With so many Americans facing unexpected hardship this year, we must work together more than ever before to face challenges like summer heat,” Dale Bannon, The Salvation Army Secretary for National Community Relations and Development said. “We cannot thank Westlake Hardware enough for coming alongside us on this incredible partnership fan drive.”
Donations to the fan drive can be made at any Westlake Ace, or if customers prefer to donate online, they may do so at westlakehardware.com/fandrive. All donations, both in-store and online, stay in the local community.
Westlake Ace Hardware has been part of the Ace Hardware Cooperative since 1959, and a wholly-owned Ace subsidiary since 2012. Westlake currently owns and operates 139 stores in California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Washington.
With just 23% of City of Grain Valley voters showing up at the polls, Chuck Johnston was elected Mayor, beating incumbent Michael Todd 48% to 39%. A third candidate, Jeff Craney, received 12% of the vote.
Reached for comment following his win, Johnston struck a more conciliatory tone than communications made via social media throughout the campaign.
“I would like to thank everyone that put their faith in me to serve as your Mayor. I will do my best to live up to your expectations,” Johnston said.
“I don't take this job lightly. I know I have to develop a working relationship with the Board of Aldermen and City staff to achieve the goals I have set. I would also like to congratulate all the others that won their campaign. I look forward to working with all of you. I want to thank those that ran and didn't win for offering their services to the City by running for office. We need those that are willing to work for the betterment of the City, if this City is going to grow and prosper.”
Voters soundly defeated Questions 1 and 2, which requested more than $38 million in bonds to develop a community campus on the former Sni-A-Bar Farms site. In Ward 1, incumbent Alderman Jayci Stratton ran unopposed and received 97.39% of the vote; Bob Headley also ran unopposed in Ward 3, winning 97.78% of the vote. Rick Knox was elected as Alderman in Ward 2, receiving 69.81% of the vote.
Grain Valley Schools received strong support for its bond issue to add additional fine arts space at the high school. The question passed with 66.71% of the vote.
In a statement, Dr. Marc Snow, Superintendent of Grain Valley Schools, thanked voters for their support and outlined construction projects to begin immediately.
“Construction at the high school will begin within the next two weeks. There will be interruptions to the drive off Eagles Parkway this summer as crews relocate the main north/south drive towards the back of the school to make room for the addition. Also this summer, new parking will be added to the east side of the school to replace a staff parking area where the addition will be. Walls for the new instructional spaces should start to go in by September. Students will be walking the hallways of phase 5 in August 2021,” Snow said.
Three incumbent school board members retained their seats. Jeff Coleman, Tisha Homfeld, and Jan Reding were each reelected, with first time candidate Jeff Wolff as a close contender.
Voters next head to the polls on August 4th for a primary election. The deadline to register for the August election is July 8th.
Since the May 25th killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protests have erupted in cities across the country. Mainly peaceful protests have been held in Kansas City over the past several days, but violence and property damage has erupted at times, forcing the Kansas City Police Department to declare the gatherings unlawful and institute curfews.
Jackson County Executive Frank White urged protestors to work for change through peaceful means.
“As members of our community come together to protest the tragic death of George Floyd and the undeniable injustices that men, women, and children of color still face in our country, I encourage them to do so loudly, passionately, and peacefully. We cannot allow the desires of a few, who are more interested in causing damage, to overshadow the vast majority who are demanding their voices be heard about legitimate and long-overdue reforms that are needed in our social and criminal justice systems. If allowed, their message will be lost and our community will suffer,” White said.
“While it may be hard at times like this, we must all also remember our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They have a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law, including their own. As we move forward, law enforcement must work with the community, not against the community. It is the only way our community, our county, and our nation can truly begin to heal from a history of inequality.”
Grain Valley Police Chief James Beale states he understands the hurt the protestors feel.
“I would first like to extend my condolences to the Floyd family and everyone who has been affected by this tragic event. This incident is devastating and heartfelt around the world. This officer’s actions were wrong and he should be held accountable, along with any other officer on that scene with him that failed to protect Mr. Floyd. They are complicit in this incident. The aftermath of this crime is affecting many peoples lives. I understand peaceful protest, which I support one-hundred percent, but the looting, rioting, and egregious destruction of property are the action of opportunists who only have creating mayhem as their only agenda. Our country is hurting, and we want positive change desperately to remove inequality of our legal justice system and socioeconomic system. We need to hold our police chiefs accountable when they consistently allow officers with a history of Excessive Use of Force Complaints to continue being employed, and we need to assure that the right people are in office who are willing to make laws against inequality. I will use this phrase, ‘Hurt People, Hurt People’. When people hurt, they want others to feel their pain,” Beale said.
Local students Dave Griffith, Shaley Harper, Emma Howell, and Sam Westlake felt compelled to attend the protest on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on Saturday, May 30th.
“I care about this protest because all lives can’t matter until black lives matter. This issue is very important to me because there are issues within our justice system that must be corrected,” Harper said.
“I have been politically active for a few years now. However, this is about far more than just politics. This is a human rights issue. As a white American, I feel I hold a certain responsibility to stand in solidarity with the black community,” Howell said.
by John Unrein
The impact of a hiring a new head coach at the high school level is felt in many ways. Some of those influences are noticeable on the surface, the others not as much. High school activities and sports are best served by consistent leadership. Therefore, the hiring of a new head coach for any program is a hire that an activities director and school administration wants to get right so that steadiness prevails in the development of student athletes.
The effects of the person selected to be at the helm of a high school athletic program comes with many questions. Is a candidate able to convince someone that they can motivate today’s young people and communicate with them effectively? Do they have a track record of winning and solid knowledge of the sport based on their background? Are they willing to adapt their philosophy to the players and assistant coaches they have, or will they be able to mold them into what they except and how long will it take to get the needed execution to be successful? Are they able to build positive relationships in and out of the classroom with students, fellow educators, other head coaches, parents, and community members? Is this their dream job or do they view it as a steppingstone? Are they convincing that they will be able handle the demands put on them by their job in managing a work-life balance?
Grain Valley High School Activities Director Brandon Hart is currently going through the process of identifying a new head coaching candidate for the Lady Eagles volleyball program. Hart shared his thoughts on what the candidate selection process looks like and what he seeks in a head coach.
“I would say head coaching experience is preferred in most cases, but not an absolute necessity. We try to evaluate each individual program and come up with a wish list based off the current reality of a program. It generally varies…sometimes we prefer experience and sometimes we prefer youthful energy. At the end of the day, we ask ourselves if this candidate is a good fit for our program,” Hart said.
Identifying the biggest attribute a candidate should possess is married to the needs of the program. An activity director must have a pulse on the health and personality of a team when trying to marry the right person to the job for the success of all involved.
“Identifying the biggest attribute or trait we seek in a head coach is a tough question because it depends on the identified needs of the program. I don’t know if you have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hiring coaches. That being said, I think the trait we generally look for in a high school head coach is his or her ability to relate to kids,” Hart said.
“Will this candidate be a positive influence on the kids, school, and community? If a coach can form strong and positive relationships with kids, they can be successful in a high school program. High school programs should be judged more on the positive impact they have on kids than on a win-loss record.”
Some activity directors may go by feel they have for a candidate they develop through the interview process. Others may use a specific tool like a four quadrant matrix, that among other things assesses climate (relationships) and performance (knowledge) based on the answers provided by an applicant. Hart prefers to use both.
“As mentioned previously,
relationships are probably the most important attribute, but if relationship building is ranked 1A, knowledge of the sport is arguably ranked 1B,” Hart said.
“The reality is a coach needs to connect with kids, but kids will likely not buy into a program if the coach lacks knowledge/skills in the arena they are coaching. Both relationships and knowledge are extremely important, and really serves as the cornerstone ‘look fors’ in our evaluation process.”
Once someone satisfies the requirements and hunches of the activity director, administrative team, or committee they interviewed with and emerge as the potential new head coach, the vetting process begins. School districts like Grain Valley do background checks that require fingerprinting and clearance from law enforcement. Hart goes past that and contacts three references for the identified candidate before making a job offer.
Upon acceptance of the job to be a new head coach and the other needed requirements fulfilled, attention then turns to welcoming the newest member of the Eagles family.
“We introduce our new head coaches in a variety of ways. We try to release information to stakeholders first (players, coaches, etc.). We will also try to have a team meeting to introduce a coach if they are new to the district…we may not need to have a team meeting if it is an internal candidate. Social media is probably the most effective way to communicate new hires,” Hart said.
June is National Dairy Month, which means it’s time to spread awareness about the health benefits of dairy! Milk and yogurt are commonly touted for their health benefits, but did you know that cheese is also an important part of the dairy group?
I often hear people say they are trying to avoid dairy, especially cheese, because they feel it is bad for them. But cheese is a great source of calcium, fat and protein (8 grams per serving). It also contains high amounts of vitamins A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. It does contain saturated fat which if too much is eaten can contributed to heart disease so eat in moderation. There are also low-fat versions of cheese just like there is for milk and yogurt. Look for either “reduced fat” or “made with 2% milk” or “part skim” varieties. Cheese also fits into almost any eating plan such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and diabetic, gluten-free and low-lactose diets.
Cheese can actually help families increase their intake of fruits and vegetable. Produce pairs very well with cheese in recipes. Because of the protein and fat content it can help to curb hunger and keep you satisfied longer. Try an apple or pear with a few cubes of cheese for a healthy snack.
Additionally, cheese can put you on track to meet the recommendation for three daily servings of dairy.
What is a serving of cheese? A serving is 1.5 ounces of natural cheese or two ounces of processed cheese. A visual reminder of a serving of cheese is four cubes – the size of playing dice.
These yummy kabobs make a great snack for kids and adults!
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
I wish I could tell you who these people are and I wish I could tell you when this photograph was taken. I do remember the old café in downtown Grain Valley. Today this building is the pottery shop on the west side of
Main Street, but until the mid 1950s it was a restaurant.
The photo is probably a family; Dad, Mom, a married son with his wife and daughter. Then there is grandma, and perhaps another daughter. From the clothing, I’m guessing the pictured might have been snapped sometime in the early 1940s. By the late 1940s ,the sign on the window on the left side of the building read United States Post Office.
Before I entered first grade, I ate there often on days when my mother was working across the street at the hardware store. The restaurant was run by Mrs. Greer, and also by Mrs. Grace Michael. They served fried chicken on Sunday, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, and probably green beans. It was good home cooking and every day there was a “special.” Hot beef sandwiches, ham & beans, vegetable beef soup, and goulash were some of the specials I remember.
In the summer, when tomatoes were ripe, there were BLTs and Ham & Cheese sandwiches. And pie. There were always homemade pies.
I only remember the restaurant being opened at noon time. I can’t say if it was opened past 3:00pm., but I don’t think so. I remember it being filled with people at noontime. I think all of the downtown merchants ate there.
After all, where else could you get a hamburger for 25 cents, the daily special for $1.50, or pie for a quarter. And a bottomless cup of coffee was still just 5 cents!
The lunch counter was at the rear and a few tables occupied the space in front by the windows. One day the man sitting next to me at the counter ordered shoofly pie. I could not imagine how flies could possibly be good in a pie. Then he told the waitress she could just get some flies over there and pointed to a fly strip near the door into the kitchen.
Everyone sitting around us had a big laugh! My mother explained that he was kidding and he was ordering raisin cream pie, one of Mrs. Greer’s specialties. To this day, I have never tried shoefly pie.
Visit www.grainvalleyhistory.com to learn more about the Grain Valley Historical Society and “like” the Historical Society on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@grainvalleyhistory).
An undated photo of the Grain Valley Café, located on the west side of Main Street until the mid-1950’s.
Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society
There’s a well-known children’s book, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”. Parents and grandparents who have had the pleasure of reading this story hundreds of times know very well that the simple act of giving a mouse a cookie creates a headache for the giver, as the mouse in the story isn’t the most self-reliant of creatures. Tuesday was Election Day, and I always think of cookies on this day.
We’re lifelong eastern Jackson County residents, with the exception of a decade long defection to the Northland. We don’t miss much about our old town, but one thing I do miss are the cookies at my last polling place.
After casting your ballot, there was a glorious table of homemade goodies at the church where we voted. Even if the ballot was boring, you were assured a chewy chocolate chip or a crisp oatmeal butterscotch cookie to reward you after completing your civic duty. If I thought the eligible voters in our town could be lulled away from the warm glow of their phones to vote with just the promise of a cookie, I’d give Mrs. Fields a run for her money.
We’ve made a point as a paper to not engage in editorials, instead focusing on providing local news coverage and opening up our Community Voices section for anyone interested to share their opinions.
After working on an article on election results, where just 23% of registered Grain Valley voters bothered to vote in the most recent municipal election, I’ve found one issue I am not concerned about editorializing. While our municipality is sadly not unusual, voter turnout in our community is absolutely embarrassing. We can’t blame COVID-19 for the lack of voter turnout either. Voter turnout was just as humiliating well before face masks and Purell became a part of the procedure.
We’re quick to put out the flag on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, blow up the neighborhood to celebrate our freedoms on the 4th of July, and proudly proclaim our support of the troops whenever conflicts arise. You may think you are honoring those who have come before us and those who serve our country now by flying the flag on your front porch or sharing “thanks for your service” messages on social media. But these are hollow sentiments. We desecrate their sacrifices through our brazen disregard for the simple but significant right we have as citizens to vote.
We have a newly minted voter in our household, and I can tell you that I felt the same lump in my throat watching her cast her first ballot as I did when she took her first steps. Not just because my baby is one milestone closer to flying from the nest, but knowing that just one hundred years prior, suffragists had seen to it that the 19th Amendment ensured she had that right.
For the past few elections, we have shared the following quote from Thomas Jefferson on our social media pages: “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
It is an unfortunate reality that the typical citizen has little power compared to the powerful, well-funded corporate interests and political action committees that have the ear of our leaders. As much as I want to believe that our elected leaders consider our needs and desires, I guess I’ve been around long enough to know better. One of the only ways you have to speak to them directly is through the ballot box. They know the majority of us do not vote, and they act accordingly. Imagine how differently those in elected office might act if the majority of the populace paid attention and voted regularly.
So, another election has passed. Winners have been named and issues have been passed or defeated. We’ll enter that much too short period of time when we can watch TV, listen to the radio, and log on to social media without the endless drone of political ads and nasty discourse. While I want to feel relief for that and go about our business of reporting our community’s news, I feel nothing but shame and embarrassment to be a part of such a dismal electorate. And no promise of a cookie can take that bitter taste out of my mouth.
With many communities reopening, it's important that you know how to continue to stay safe from the coronavirus. Whether you're going to head back outside or you prefer to continue to shelter in place, there are some steps you need to take to reduce your exposure to COVID-19 and to lower the chances that you will spread it to someone else.
Regardless of how much of a threat you think this virus is, keeping yourself and your home sanitized helps everyone out. To help you out, I've put together this handy reopening toolkit to help you.
1. Wash Your Hands and Keep Them Moisturized.
The most important step to lower your risk to COVID-19 is to wash your hands. Do this after you cough or sneeze, use the restroom (public or private), and when you're leaving one place to another. Regular soap and water will do as long as you perform the 20-second wash (remember the whole bit on social media of saying your ABCs while washing your hands?)
If you don't want to spend your time searching out soap, hand sanitizer will do in a pinch. Keep in mind that using soap and water is much easier on your hands. You should probably moisturize your hands once in a while as well, to keep them from getting dry and brittle.
2. Wear a Mask or Not ... Your Choice.
The CDC recommends that you wear a mask when you're out and about. Not everyone will like this advice, but it's not about keeping you safe, it's about keeping others who at a higher risk safe from the virus. If you don't want to wear a mask, make sure you at least practice good social distancing when in public places.
3. Clean and Disinfect Your Keys and Credit Cards.
Did you know 1 in every 12 bank cards and one in seven-dollar bills are contaminated with germs? This goes for your car keys as well. It doesn't do you any good if you are washing your hands but not disinfecting items you will carry with you and use when you are out and about. You could wipe your keys and credit cards with disinfecting wipe after each use and wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling money.
You could also consider purchasing Phone Soap (www.phonesoap.com). If you follow my blog, hopefully, you know about this wonderful device that uses UV Rays to thoroughly disinfect those items like smartphones as well as keys credit cards and money.
To further minimize your risks, when making purchases while you are out, you should consider using retailers that have a no-cash policy and that are using contactless pay systems such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Square wireless payment systems.
4. Clean and Disinfect Your Home's High-Touch Surfaces.
It's important you understand that cleaning and disinfecting are two separate things. Cleaning means you removing dirt and grime from surfaces. Disinfecting is the act of killing germs and viruses.
Researchers have discovered the coronavirus can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for up to three days, so it's important that you are cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home at least once a day.
Everyone's house is a little different, so think about the surfaces you touch the most. Not sure what surfaces are considered high touch, here's a list:
Kitchen and bathroom counters
Toilet seats and handles
Kitchen and bathroom faucet knobs
Now that you know what to target, you have several options. You can use Clorox bleach wipes (if you can find them) to properly disinfect.
I'm a green guy, so I will always recommend eco-friendly products like Pure and Clean's Surface cleaner (www.pureandclean.us). Pure and Clean doesn't use harsh chemicals to make sure your home is disinfected. If you prefer making your own solution, you can mix 50% water with 50% of a solution of 70% Isopropyl Alcohol.
5. Don't Forget to Clean and Disinfect Your Tech Devices.
Tech devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, remotes, keyboards, mice, and portable gaming systems are high-touch items. Unlike your high home items, you can't use bleach or vinegar on these items as they can ruin the device.
Instead, you want to stick with the eco-friendly Pure and Clean Surface Cleaner or your homemade solution of water and rubbing alcohol. When you clean your tech items, always use a microfiber cloth to avoid leaving scratches on your tech toys and like your household items, let the cleaning solution sit on your device for at least 3 minutes so they are properly disinfected.
If you want an easy way to clean all of those gadgets at once consider purchasing Home Soap. From the makers of Phone Soap, this device is large enough to hold smaller laptops, tablets, phones, remotes, and more allowing you to disinfect all of those tech items at once.
Also, to keep the germs off your smartphone, consider purchasing the Tech21 Anti-Microbial Case (www.tech21.com) This case promises to reduce the number of germs and microbes that grow on your phone.
6. Consider Enabling 'Contract Tracing' on Your Smartphone and Tablet.
Keep in mind that a virus doesn't spread itself, people spread a virus which is why Apple and Android have teamed up to develop Exposure Notification. This technology combined with specific apps, will help the authorities notify you if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
You also have the option to able to update your status if you test positive. The whole process is supposed to be completely anonymous, but there have been concerns about the amount of information that will be shared with Apple, Android, and the government if you use this feature.
Only 3 states have signed on board for this service, but it's my recommendation that it becomes available in your area and you find yourself venturing out more and more, that you enable this feature on your smartphone and tablet.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you.
If you need on-site or remote tech support for your Windows\Macintosh, computers, laptops, Android/Apple smartphone, tablets, printers, routers, smart home devices, and anything that connects to the Internet, please feel free to contact my team at Integral. My team of friendly tech experts are always standing by to answer your questions and help make your technology useful and fun. Reach out to us a www.callintegralnow.com or phone at 888.256.0829.
by Wayne Geiger
She was a trophy wife—but always on the lookout for a better display shelf. All the men in town knew her and loved to watch her walk by. All the women avoided her—and kept their husbands close by. She had been married five times and was apparently grooming number six. She wasn’t looking for Mr. Right, but Mr. Happiness.
It was the hottest part of the day, and yet, she came out to the well in her city, Sychar in Samaria, to draw water. Most of the women came to draw water in the cool of the day. It was a social event where they would often catch up on the latest gossip. She wasn’t invited and was likely shunned by the group.
She didn’t know it, but on this particular day, she had a divine appointment with the Son of God. She was His noon appointment that day. Jesus came to the well and asked her for a drink. She was spunky and had attitude. Her response was anything but cordial or respectful. She chided, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” She did have a point.
She was alluding to a long history of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. At one time, they were one people. But that was a long time ago. It’s a long story of brothers who ended up drifting apart and hating one another. The Jews would say of the Samaritans, “They ain’t like us.”
The short story is, both groups were “sons and daughters of Abraham” and lived together in “one land.” But, tension arose, and they divided into two kingdoms: north and south. The north became known as Samaria and the south, Judah. They were divided by geography and religion.
In 722 BC, Samaria was invaded by the nation of Assyria. Many people living in the north were deported while some Assyrians were brought in to integrate with those who were allowed to remain in the land. Assyria knew that intermarriage would help integrate the people into the Assyrian kingdom and culture.
Fast forward to Jesus’s time and the people of the north had lost their true blood lineage. The Jews in the south considered the northerners “half breeds.” They were half child of Abraham and have other stuff they didn’t like.
There was an incredible amount of hatred, anger, and racism between the two, neighboring communities. In fact, the Jews would do everything they possibly could to avoid walking through Samaria. If Jews had to pass through a Samaritan village, they would literally, “shake the dust from their feet.”
In this beautiful story, Jesus crosses geographical, cultural, and religious barriers to offer this woman, “living water.” After one sip, she was satisfied. And the walls came tumbling down. A loving Father and a good drink have a way of doing that.
We’ve created a lot of great things in America, but as you can see, we didn’t invent racism. It’s as old as man himself and exists in every culture and every people group. We’re struggling with the issue of racism in our country—and have for some time.
For the last decade, I have taught college classes in communication. Every semester, I show Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech which was delivered at our nation’s capital in 1963.
I show the speech because it is masterfully written, is full of emotion, beautiful imagery, and crafted using airtight logic. In addition, the message of ending racism needs to be heard again and again.
I don’t have the space to work through the entire speech, so I’ll hit the highlights. King’s “dream” is founded upon the American dream. It’s a dream of a better life—a better existence—for everyone. The dream is not ethereal and irrational. It is foundational and logical.
King strategically quotes several documents. As a preacher, he quotes extensively from the Bible. He recognized that all people were created in the image of God and have equal value and tremendous worth. God’s desire is that people would love one another.
In addition to the Bible, King references the Emancipation Proclamation stating, “this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” One does not throw the term, “injustice” around lightly. To claim injustice means that someone or something has departed from that which is just—or right. His claim is that one-hundred years later, it’s an historical document, but nobody’s doing what it says.
King also references the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These documents, he said, were designed to be “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
I always make sure to point out the financial imagery weaved through the speech because if you don’t understand that, the speech is void of its intended power.
King noted that these foundational documents promised great opportunities for all people, but they were just documents when it came to people of color. These documents which provided “the bank of justice” and “great vaults of opportunity,” were not true for people of color. He suggested that America has, in essence, given them, “a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
His cry was not economic. He was not suggesting socialism or quotas, but simply that all people be treated equally and have the same opportunities. In one famous line he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
King’s message of equality was one that he hoped would be pursued peacefully. He said, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” He also realized that the great melting pot must produce one precious metal. When addressing the “whites of the nation” he said, “their destiny is tied up with our destiny…. their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
We’ve come a long way since 1963. We no longer have segregated eating places, sitting areas, and drinking fountains for different races. But racial tension in our country is still there—even reverse discrimination. Racism should not be tolerated.
I am unapologetically pro-law enforcement. I have close family members and friends who protect and serve. They judge people based upon the content of their character. I know their hearts and their stories. I stand with them.
I cannot judge, but I will say that in every profession there are those who abuse power and authority. Unfortunately, some of these are in law enforcement. The problem is not law enforcement, but a few individuals. There is great danger in throwing the baby out with the bathwater and thereby undermining and deteriorating the fabric of an organized society.
From what I’ve seen on social media, people seem to think that you have to “choose sides.” You have to choose to support the police or the African American community.
It’s not about choosing sides. In fact, “sides” are the problem. Whenever you find yourself using language such as “them,” “those people,” or “that group,” you manifest the racial tendencies within you. In your heart, you say, “they ain’t like us.”
To talk about “behavior” is another conversation entirely. Those claiming to protest by angrily attempting to hurt officers, citizens, or to ransack and destroy businesses are not protesting. Stealing a television from someone’s business is not a protest. These individuals are committing crimes. They are selfishly using a difficult time in our history to pursue their own evil pursuits. Their actions should not be tolerated. They are no less guilty and should be punished.
So, I support law enforcement and I support a nation where we all get along. The only way we’re going to get there is together. We need to change our terminology from “them” to “us”. We’re all is this boat together. A hole on my side of the boat is a hole on your side.
One last thought. The framers of our Declaration of Independence wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If, as they note from the Bible, that “these truths” are “endowed by [our] Creator,” then recognizing His Sovereign, purposeful hand is the best place to start. The Father wants everyone to play nice in the sandbox.
As a community, let’s work together to ensure that racism has no place in our halls. The only way to do that is to evaluate our hearts. Let’s sit down at the table of brotherhood and truly listen to one another. Let’s keep the dream alive. When I do my part and you do your part, we will have done our part.
Dr. Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.