The MLK Commemoration Committee posed the following question: As a participant in our commemoration, we trust that you are aligned with Rev. Dr. King’s ideals. What are you doing to advance these ideals? What are you doing to heal the worsening division in the United States?
Transcript of Mayor Shultz's Speech
On behalf of Carlisle Borough Council, thank you to the commemoration committee for continuing the work of Dr. King. For over 400 years, time and again, we find ourselves at moments of profound choice. Do we choose to remain tied to the deeply rooted rot of inequity, or do we cultivate anew. The decision is easy if driven by a near universal human truth. In Montgomery, Alabama, 1957, Dr. King framed it this way: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”
Carlisle, like America, has clear inequities and divergent outcomes along racial lines in housing, education, wealth, and income. The cold, objective numbers and studies bear this out. We cannot achieve our full potential or the full breadth of liberty while some are still bound by disadvantage.
One year ago, we held the first ever Town Hall on Racial Equity to hear our community. Just months before that, Council formally apologized for the callous removal of headstones and perpetuation of segregation at Lincoln Cemetery decades ago. But words alone are not enough.
So to Dr. King’s question, what are we doing for others? In 2020, recognizing the disparate impact of misdemeanors on employment prospects for people of color, we reformed part of our local crimes code. For years, Council has invested in programs to enable the disadvantaged in our community to gain home ownership. In 2021, council created the Carlisle Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is specifically empowered to call us out on how we can do better.
Some might say, “Mr. Mayor, we’ve heard this all before and little has changed.” This mayor and this borough council understand the importance of this moment and are committed to the cause. We have put our money where our mouth is by investing in housing opportunities, funding criminal justice reform, and providing budgeted funds to the mission of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We will not upend racial inequities overnight or in a handful of years. But we will not allow our words to ring hollow. We cannot afford to. We cherish the innate value and beauty of each life, and we will do the work and keep coming back to it until we can finally sing as one that we are all free at last.