One World Film Festival is hosting a free showing of the film Red Tails at the Kentucky Theatre in honor of Martin Luther King Day.
The film is about the courage and perseverance displayed by the Tuskegee Airmen before, during and after World War II. Though many in authority doubted their abilities, black pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and other support staff served with distinction despite racial discrimination in the service and at home.
We don't often see courage like that on display any more. We turn our backs on doctors and nurses who choose to serve Ebola patients in Africa, wondering why they would risk so much for people so far away.
We demonize protesters for their public stance against police brutality.
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Even now, some of us in journalism talk boldly about the weekly Charlie Hebdo's right to poke fun at the Prophet Mohammed and satirize Islam, but have refused to republish cartoons that angered extremists in the past.
It takes courage to effect change.
Susan L. Taylor, the former editor of Essence magazine, and the founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, said finding that courage should be our focus on MLK day. Rather than coming together to listen to King's speeches during the celebrations of his life, Taylor said we should be taking inventory of our own lives.
"What I'm doing is looking in the mirror and I'm asking each of us to do the same thing," she said. "We should muster the courage for all of us to become activists."
That's what the Tuskegee Airmen did. But how do we get that type of courage?
Taylor, who is the keynote speaker for Lexington's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Freedom March and Celebration at Heritage Hall, said first we should change our thinking.
"The mind is the destroyer of courage and joy," she said. We all are innately talented and each of us has what we need to not only make ourselves whole, but also to reach out and become a healing source for our communities. But we have to address our primary responsibilities first.
With mental and physical wellness, with "ensuring our thoughts are right," we can overcome any fear of taking charge of our lives and our communities, Taylor said.
"The Holy Spirit is calling us, people of all races, to do a mighty work," Taylor said.
That work would be to "ensure there (is) equity and healing, balance, and fairness in this world. We need to have respect for people of all faiths. We've got to be looking in the mirror to see what we can do to ensure peace in the world."
A good starting point would be with our young people. When children in poverty look around at the opulence that exists just beyond their communities, and hear in the media that "you have to have these things to be happy," Taylor said, then they become sad and angry.
To break the back of intergenerational poverty, Taylor said, NCMM recruits mentors and deploys them to teach young people about their history, about forgiving those who have angered them, and about a life beyond where they live.
NCMM has launched a pilot program, "A New Way Forward," in four cities that features intensive workshops and a curriculum that promotes mental and physical healing in black communities. Once the initiative is evidence-based, the program will be replicated in various regions in a "plug and play model," she said.
"This is my highest calling," Taylor said. "This is what I'm supposed to do."
It is not reasonable in the wealthiest country in the world, she said, that students and teachers in some poorer neighborhood schools aren't as well-equipped as those in richer districts, or that their facilities aren't as functional.
To fix that, as King would have us do, it will take community. We all have to work together to make things better. And that takes courage. The Tuskegee Airmen knew that. The young people who protest police shooting of unarmed black men know that. King knew that.
It's time for the person in the mirror to understand that and act on it.