When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke, people listened. His courage and the power of his message galvanized the Civil Rights movement, changed the course of race relations in the United States, and redeﬁned democracy. Dr. King was an American prophet. His nonviolent ideals and metaphors of hope continue to inform struggles for social and economic justice in the U.S. and around the world.
In honor of Dr. King’s vital and enduring legacy, SITES presents In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the first major exhibition of visual arts dedicated to celebrating this American hero. The exhibition features 118 works by prominent, emerging, and folk artists selected by a team consisting of principal curator Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, visual arts curator Helen M. Shannon, curator of photography Steven Kasher, and project developer Gary Chassman in cooperation with a committee of scholars.
An overview of the Civil Rights movement sets the stage for the exhibition’s impressive range of artistic offerings. In the Spirit of Martin includes paintings, works on paper, prints, sculpture, and mixed-media pieces by such artists as Elizabeth Catlett, Thornton Dial, L’Merchie Frazier, Jacob Lawrence, May Stevens, Charles White, and John Wilson. Some of the artworks cast Dr. King as a martyr and comment on violence in American society. These images convey the tremendous sense of outrage and loss caused by Dr. King’s death. Others examine his status as an icon of popular culture or a source of African American pride.
Through its presentation of work in the visual arts, the exhibition demonstrates the extraordinary influence of Dr. King and speaks to the power of art to shape our collective national memory.
Accompanying the exhibition is a large-format, full-color illustrated book (Verve Editions, 2002) with original essays by leading historians, social critics, writers, and poets.
In the Spirit of Martin was created and developed by Gary Chassman, Verve Editions, and organized for travel by SITES in cooperation with The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
This exhibition toured from 2002-2004.
In the Spirit of Martin is the companion book to the first museum exhibition — opening in January 2002 at the Smithsonian Institution — to demonstrate the compelling outpouring of responses to Dr. King’s life. This richly illustrated, large-format book features the work of more than 150 important African American artists as well as other prominent traditional and visionary artists. Original essays by Bernice Johnson Reagon, Julius Lester, June Jordan, John Lewis, Stanley Crouch, and others enrich this celebration of the leader of the Civil Rights movement, one of history’s most important figures.
Do you know what’s in that glass of water you’re drinking? Depending on where you live, what you don’t know could harm you.
Just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan, where what initially appeared to be simply a bad call on the part of government officials may result in an estimated $400 million in health care costs.
While those responsible for hiding reports showing high levels of toxic lead in Flint’s water now face criminal charges, the health crisis there has raised the alarm about everyone else’s water.
But before switching to bottled water for all your hydration needs, get the facts.
U.S. Water Sets a Gold Standard ― Mostly
Americans actually enjoy the world’s safest drinking water supply. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets enforceable health standards regarding the contaminants in drinking water, reports that 90 percent of municipal water systems are in compliance with safety regulations.
To find out about your own city’s tap water, check out your water system’s Annual Water Quality Report. After July 1 of each year, water systems are required to provide this report by including it with your water bill or via a link. The report lists common contaminants and the levels at which they are found and are generally available online: Do a web search of your city’s name and “annual quality report.”
And you can go one step further by using a filter. Look for filters certified by the NSF International, which developed the national standards for reducing contaminants.
The crisis in Flint has brought widespread attention to the potential for lead contamination in our water supplies.
“There is no level of lead that is safe,” says Mary Grant, director of Public Water for All at nongovernmental organization and consumer rights group Food and Water Watch. “Cities like Jackson, Mississippi, and Sebring, Ohio, with older systems have lead service lines. We really shouldn’t have lead lines.”
According to a study by the National Resources Defense Council, 18 million people were served by water systems with lead violations in 2015. In addition to Flint, cities like Cleveland and Newark, New Jersey, have high levels of lead in their water systems as well, according to the New York Times.
“Each year in America there are roughly 90,000 low-level exposures (5–9 micrograms per deciliter), which commonly result from sources such as drinking water,” says Peter Muennig, an associate professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, in a letter to the journal Health Affairs. “These exposures rob children of IQ points, leading to lower economic productivity, higher welfare use, and additional criminal justice system costs.”
Muennig goes on to note that because of the effort to save $5 million by switching water sources, Flint will suffer costs of $395 million, as well as “1,760 quality-adjusted life-years lost.”
In addition to water system safety concerns, lead can also be present closer to home. Older houses may have lead plumbing, in which case, your options include replacing your plumbing system ― a prohibitively expensive proposition for most homeowners ― buying a filter that can reduce lead or packing it in and moving to a newer house.
A short-term solution to avoid consuming lead from tap water is to use only water from the cold tap for drinking and cooking and to let the water run for 60 seconds before using it.
Microorganisms, Bacteria and Parasites, Oh My!
There can be other contaminants in your water too: microorganisms like bacteria and parasites, chemicals from industrial waste or from spraying crops and nitrates used in fertilizers from runoff.
The EPA ensures that the amounts of these contaminants are below hazardous levels, but they can still be evident.
Unregulated Dangers in Tap Water
Then there are the contaminants the EPA doesn’t regulate, like drugs and hormones.
“These unregulated contaminants are a big concern,” Grant says. “Hormones have been found in surface waters. We’re not sure what the levels are.”
A recent Harvard study found that another class of contaminant — an obscure industrial pollutant associated with cancer and other severe health consequences — was found in unsafe levels in the drinking water of 6 million Americans.
This could be changing, though. The EPA is looking for new contaminants and ways to better regulate them. The agency currently has an unregulated contaminant list that it’s testing for in large cities, but it’s still in the review process.
Many of us are fortunate enough to live in cities that test water systems thousands of times a year and exceed the safety levels required by the EPA. A few cities with the best water are New York, San Francisco and New Orleans.
“New York has the champagne of tap water,” Grant says. “It’s a model of source protection. They make sure the contaminants don’t enter in the first place.”
Going further, the American Water Works Association has annual tap water taste tests. The 2016 winner for best-tasting tap water is Bloomington, Minnesota.
Who Has the Worst Tap Water?
On the other end of the spectrum, problematic water systems abound in underserved communities.
“The worst water is found in systems that serve Native American populations,” Grant says. “And small, private systems have bad water quality.”
Lead: On its way to your faucet, water may pass through corroded plumbing that can allow lead to leach into it. Lead-related health risks include neurological damage, kidney and liver problems and developmental delays in children.
Chlorine: Chlorine is added to water to kill bacteria and viruses, but it can react with other materials in the water and form byproducts that have been linked to increased cancer risk.
Fluoride: Added to water in some areas to promote dental health, fluoride in excess may result in bone disease.
Pharmaceuticals: These compounds are increasingly appearing in trace amounts in drinking water, and there’s growing concern that certain drugs or combinations of drugs may harm humans over time. While no known effects on humans have been reported (yet), exposure to estrogen-like substances in the Potomac River have produced fish with both male and female characteristics, with some fish having both testes and ovaries.
Nitrates: Farm runoff can introduce nitrates from fertilizer into a water source. Nitrates interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of newborns’ blood.
Polyfluoroalkyl and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAs): These chemicals are used in a range of commercial products. Some are linked to health problems, including high cholesterol, immune deficiency, hormone disruption and kidney and testicular cancers.
we’ll mourn the death of Trayvon Martin.Please share this video and honor Trayvon’s memory by building a strong movement for justice.
George Zimmerman shot and killed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin because he thought the young man looked suspicious.1 And one year later, what happened that night in Sanford, Florida still outrages us.
In a culture that inundates us with images of Black men as violent2 — not to be trusted, inherently criminal — we are continually reminded that something as simple as walking home from the corner store can draw unwanted attention that puts our very lives in danger.Black Americans face racial animosity every day, and far too often that animosity turns violent.
The movement that came together to demand justice for Trayvon demonstrates the power of our collective voice. It’s thanks to the pressure from more than 200,000 ColorOfChange members, the work of our allies and tireless advocacy of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin that George Zimmerman will answer in a court of law for killing Trayvon Martin.3
ColorOfChange fights racial injustice and the danger it presents to our basic safety. We organize campaigns against racially-motivated police practices like the NYPD‘s Stop and Frisk.4 And we’re working to stop the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which pushed the “Shoot First” laws Zimmerman is using to claim his actions were justified.5
–Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Johnny, Lyla, Kim and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team February 26th, 2013
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