INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV’s “We Stand Together” gives community leaders an opportunity to share their voices.
Darryl Lockett is the executive director for the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative. He sat down with News 8’s Katiera Winfrey and explains why it it will take a bold dialogue to bring repair to the lives of individuals.
More than 50 years ago, Indianapolis proved it had the ability to be a city of peace. We see it can still be that through countless peaceful protest, but we know there are also other sides to the city: rage and destruction. For lasting peace, the city may need to fully come together.
“The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative builds on the history in the legacy of one particular night in the story of Indianapolis. April 4, 1968, the same night that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, Sen. Bobby Kennedy was on the campaign trail for the president of the United States. And he was here in Indianapolis. And it was there at 17th and Broadway where the ‘Landmark for Peace’ stands today he delivered the news to Indianapolis that unfortunately Martin Luther King had been taken from us. And it was there that he first spoke of the death of his brother and how that grief had overcome him and how we can turn the grief that we felt in that moment into activism. That we could rally around a message of love of peace of understanding and compassion. And it’s today that the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative builds upon that legacy. To really address issues of injustice and division here in Indianapolis and across this nation. And to how we can have the dialogue and courageous conversations to bring communities together to better understand one another. To realize we have more in common than we do that separates us. And to ultimately address some of those persistent issues that have divided us, that have kept resources from traveling from one community to the next or providing roadblocks to understanding to really bring us together and unite us as a city that we could be,” Lockett said.
“A common idea that I’ve heard in recent weeks compared to what happened the night Dr. King was assassinated was just the mood of the time. A lot more calm. Kennedy was able to kind of help keep the calm. and then you fast forward now and we are seeing a whole different set of emotions. Talk about how hopeful you are that that mood can translate into now,” Winfrey said.
“I’m very cognizant and I think we all need to be be very aware that there needs to be space provided for the emotions, the pain, and the hurt, the agony and despair that people feel. This is not coming just from one incident. This is years and unfortunately generations in the making. That there are inequality and inequities that many people have found themselves living under even here in Indianapolis has percolated to the surface. And that’s what we’re seeing. But I think it’s really channeling that’s sort of emotion, that grief, that frustration, into constructive conversations into dialogue and bringing people together. They are truly addressing some of the social determinants of health. That are asking the tough questions as to why does one’s ZIP Code determine life expectancy in such a critical way here in the city that we all love? Asking questions as to why resources may exist in one community that historically have not been present in others. How can we then address some of those concerns with the same energy and effort that we are running to rebuild and redress the business community that’s been challenged in downtown Indianapolis? How can we take the same energy to bring repair an redress the lives of individuals who for generations have lived under certain inequities in Indianapolis. That have been provided the the road map or the infrastructure of opportunities that others have seen in the same city,” Lockett said.
“So just to segue off of that that’s kind of the what’s next part would you say?” Winfrey asked.
“Definitely I think it’s going to require a full community effort. It’s not something that’s just at the table of police. It’s not something that’s just at the table of legislators and lawmakers but it’s community organizers. And that’s integral to the story of April 4, 1968. Sen. Kennedy went on to Ohio and continued on this campaign trail for the Democratic nomination for president but there were clergy leaders, community activists. There were just individuals who were passionate about keeping the peace here in Indianapolis and really rebuilding the city in a manner that was more equitable than in 1968. So today in 2020 we’re going to need those same individuals and more. I’m happy to say that the empathy that I’ve seen expressed at this time is unmatched in any other period in history, at least in my life. That I’ve seen communities of different ethnic backgrounds or communities of different religious traditions coming together reaching across the aisle reaching out to one another to say, ‘Hey, what can I do to bring about a change? What can I do to highlight some of the gross injustices that exist in our community today?’ To ultimately bring the resources to the table. Bring the hands to the table. Bring the herds to the table to make a brighter tomorrow,” Lockett said.
“You know, we can sit in a room and talk about this stuff all day, but it kind of could be a challenge to learn to open your ears and actually hear what’s being said. Is that something you all are kind of pushing for, too?” Winfrey asked.
“Definitely, we’re using the physical facility of the Kennedy King Memorial Park Center as a place to have these dialogues and these conversations. The lived experiences of people are what we really need to tap into and understand what life is like on the east side may be starkly different from what life is like on the west side. Or the challenges that one faces on the south side may be different than what’s on the north side. When we really understand that it’s not anything that one individual has done but the circumstances in environment that many of them have found themselves in that then we must address those sort of systemic issues with a strategic policy effort that really gets to the underlying root cause of some of the inequity that we face. So it’s listening, valuing, respecting and understanding that the lived experiences of each individual matter. It’s not something that can be figured out in a vacuum of legislators. It’s not something that the City(-County) Council can just in innately know. But really hearing the stories coupled with the pain coupled with the frustrations and also right there with the hopes to understand how we are going to provide redressed these communities,” Lockett said.