There is a moment in Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I have a dream’ speech when he turns his attention to the White people who, realising their destiny and that of their Black fellow citizens was intertwined, joined the movement for equal rights.
“They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom,” he said. “We cannot walk alone.”
Life is tough for many of us right now, and the future feels very uncertain. Looking after ourselves, our families and communities takes time and energy. There is so much to do.
The challenges of the past year have exposed the deep inequalities between us, including in housing, income and access to healthcare. But the crisis has also shown how interconnected we are – that the wellbeing of each of us depends on the welfare, safety and hard work of others. We are part of a shared ‘us’.
Martin Luther King may have been speaking during the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, but his words resonate across space and time. Here in the UK and across the world today, we know that it is only by coming together that we will move forward. That when we choose to walk side by side, to share networks and resources, or make space for others to lead, we create deeper and longer-lasting change than is possible alone.
The theme of Refugee Week 2021, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, is an invitation to extend your hand to someone new. Someone who is outside your current circle, has had an experience you haven’t, or is fighting for a cause you aren’t yet involved in.
Whoever and wherever you are, we hope you’ll join us in making Refugee Week 2021 a bold, collective act of reaching out; a space for us all to listen, to exchange and connect. To find out what we can learn from each other, and what we can build together.
Refugee Week 2021 is 14-20 June, and anyone can get involved by holding or taking part in an event or activity.
We will be sharing resources and ideas for activities in the coming months – sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch.
Inspiration (we will keep adding to these – let us know your suggestions)
I Have A Dream: Martin Luther King’s speech delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963
“Reach out to the people you don’t know. Find the unfamiliar, hold out your hand… and I guarantee you all of us, together as humanity, will rise up.” Actress Alexandra Billings on the importance of being an ally, Human Rights Campaign’s Columbus Dinner 2018
“There’s this way when we actually spend time with, speak to, visit with friends from other communities, actually live in community with people that are different from us that we start to be able to see things from their perspective.” Sebene Selassie: The Delusion of Separation, Hurry Slowly podcast episode
“One community should give solidarity to another. It is really illogical to say, ‘I’m gay and I’m into defending the gay community but I don’t care about anything else…’.” Mark Ashton, founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Read about them in this Guardian article, or watch the film ‘Pride’