“Juntos hacemos possible los sueños (Together we make dreams possible)”  is the motto on the Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brochure, which I picked up during my recent visit to Cuba. The words resonated with me, as I feel this motto is also a part of the Friends School of Minnesota mission.

Friends School of Minnesota prepara los niños para abrazar la vida, aprender, y construír una comunidad con esperanza, habilidad, entiendimiento y creatividad. Estamos comitidos a los valores Cuáqueres de la paz, justicia, simplicidad e integridad.

(Friends School of Minnesota prepares children to embrace life, learning, and community with hope, skill, understanding, and creativity. We are committed to the Quaker values of peace, justice, simplicity, and integrity.)

Although there is no mention of ‘dreams’ in the FSM mission, certainly, dreams were a part of the earliest Religious Society of Friends’ meetings in England during the Reformation 400 years ago—dreams of a new way of connecting with the divine, by listening to ‘that of God’ within, not having to go through a priest mediator or interpreter of the Bible.

These dreams, inspired by the voice within heard while sitting in silence with the community, helped Quakers usher in societal reforms such as prison and educational reforms, abolitionist movement, social justice, women’s rights, and peace activism.

As a Quaker school, we are inspired by this legacy and work to help students to hear the voice within which will help them to do the work to continue to move in the direction of peace and justice. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is one of dreams, peace and justice and inspires us to this day.

Veronica standing by mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Cuba
Mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited by Veronica on her recent trip to Cuba.

In Havana, Cuba, Dr. King’s dream continues to inspire the work at the Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King JrOpening in April 1987, as an ecumenical center to support the Cuban community and its churches, defending “the right to a good life for all, without excluding or discriminating, in harmony with nature,” CMLK has expanded to include outreach to Latin America and North America, hosting workshops and classes for students and teachers.

Joel Suárez, General Coordinator of the CMLK, was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to give us a briefing about the Center and answer our group’s questions. He spoke rapidly, with enthusiasm and expertise, about the large number of projects the Center works on. The Center has five program areas of focus:

  • Social-Theological and Pastoral Reflection and Formation
  • Popular Education and Accompaniment of Experiences (Political-Pedagogical movement, part of a network of Popular/ progressive educators)
  • Solidarity (with local, regional and global actions— ie., Code Pink & Occupy movements, to name a few)
  • Sustainability and Organizational Development
  • Popular Communication

The center has a newsletter—Boletín Caminos, and magazine—Caminos — along with books, DVDs, and an Agenda to Save the Planet—a calendar of topics and articles about the ecumenical/progressive education movement.

I look forward to sharing these materials with my students, as another connection between our school, Dr. King, and Cuba. It is truly inspiring to see Dr. King’s work flourish in so many directions, promoting non-violence, understanding, and justice.

Veronica vists Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Cuba
Veronica at Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Havana, Cuba

This is a pivotal moment in history for Cuba—greater understanding and support will help to usher in the reforms (such as the end of US trade Embargo, loosening of Cuba’s restrictions on communication, work, travel and ownership of property) needed so that Cubans can lead free and full lives.

Cuba
I am so very grateful to have been able to live and work for a week with Cubans in Havana, and the countryside of Itabo/ Favorito.

¡Próspero Año Nuevo para todos!

Abrazo—Veronica

related post: My Trip to Cuba