January 17, 2012

This New Year, like many before, I attended the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. with my dad. We sat in our traditional grandstand seats at the intersection of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards, which marks the starting point for the Rose Parade. This year, however, there was a bonus "parade." Thousands of members of the Occupy Movement had announced that they would "occupy the Rose Parade." As one person put it, they hoped to “…inspire people to know that there is hope for a global community working and acting together for a better world.”


The peaceful and very diverse group marched by like a giant bright rainbow! The various banners, flags, slogans, and outfits were quite a sight especially after viewing the bright, beautiful floats, many touching our hearts with messages of survival and hope.

A bright yellow banner emblazoned with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. caught my father's eye and then mine:

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

So many of Dr. King’s inspiring words echo deeply with my lived experiences in this world as:

  • A person of color
  • A woman
  • A person who grew up around the world as a global nomad (an Army brat)
  • A person who has been given a serious mental illness diagnosis
  • The daughter of a black man from the south who was directly and adversely impacted by racism and who lived through the Civil Rights movement

Ultimately we know when a movement is powerful—it resonates at the collective level, changing systems, minds, hearts and nations no matter how one identifies. A movement is powerful when its core principles are continually replicated by people and groups seeking justice of any kind.

As a member and leader in NAMI, I think of my involvement as being in a movement that resonates with the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when we advocate for:

  • Equal access (“A right delayed is a right denied. – MLK)
  • Humane and effective treatment for people with serious mental illness (“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – MLK)
  • Hope (“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”MLK)

Most importantly I never give up; my dad never gives up; my peers never give up; I see my NAMI friends as tireless in their efforts too.

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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