A Publication of the State Bar of Arizona
LISA BORMASTER FONTES
ASHLE Y THERESE KASARJIAN, CHAIR
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DAVID H. BEN TON
YUSRA B. BOKHARI
HON. THEODORE CAMPAGNOLO
PAUL F. DOWDELL
GREGORY GAU TAM
HON. WENDY S. MOR TON
EMILY K. POKORA
MARK D. SAMSON
K YLE SHELTON
LACE Y STOVER GARD
MICHAEL F. VALENZUELA
4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100
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VOLUME 52, NO. 7
How do we recognize courage in our midst More
difficult, how do we replicate it?
As I write this, moving words spoken at the annual Phoenix Martin
Luther King, Jr., breakfast ring in my ears. Events like
this re-teach many lessons, among them the message
that our history is not ancient. But on our worst days
as a nation, the lessons themselves dim in our con-
A few days after the breakfast, my phone alerted me
that someone I follow was posting a live video via the
Periscope app. Curious who was streaming content
near midnight on a Sunday, I tuned in. The feed came
from a San Francisco airport terminal, where a crowd
of peaceful protestors was holding what appeared to
be a Black Lives Matter event. While travelers passed
by unimpeded, the speakers, in honor of MLK Day,
intoned the names of those who had been killed in
interactions with police. It was like many other such
protests that have occurred over the past few years.
Among Periscope’s many features is the ability of viewers to type
comments or questions for the videographer. And among those comments
were a startling number that expressed anger that people were protesting
at all, and that they should be prevented from doing so in a public place,
or that “those people” should simply go home.
Perhaps most troubling of all was the
repeated comment that those viewers admired
Dr. King and that he would never have engaged
in such activities, that equality was achieved
without such unpleasantness, let alone violence.
It’s enough to make you have grave misgivings about U.S. schooling on the First Amendment, at a minimum. But even more than that,
history reminds us that Reverend King engaged in peaceful civil disobedience, and was arrested 30 times in pursuit of justice. I’m no clairvoyant,
but I suspect he would have been at the airport.
Perhaps one of his booking photos should be required
viewing for schoolkids, who must be reminded that courage has
That same month, courage’s opposite was demonstrated in
Arizona, when high school students arranged themselves and
their lettered shirts so as to offer a searing and painful insult.
As on Periscope, though, numerous folks stepped up to defend
the students, insisting they were “just acting like kids.”
But that excuse rings hollow, as many other youngsters were
horrified by the racist act, and said as much at their own schools.
They, too, were acting like kids, but kids who had learned
Dr. King’s message and the importance of speaking out. It is
courage like that, found in places like a California airport terminal, that the reverend would have admired—and joined.
Thirty years later, our justice experiment continues.
The courage of memory
Justice-seekers pay a price.