To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, April 21, 2024


Who’s Afraid Of Social Justice?



Sharon MartinMy sister, Monette, a minister’s wife, was at a church board meeting in central Mississippi a few Decembers back. The board gathered to decide who would receive the church’s Christmas charity that year.

Monette suggested they pay the utility bills for a family whose breadwinner had been laid off his job.

“Now we can’t go paying the bills for every Tom, Dick, and Harry who’s out of work,” one of the board members said.

“Just what Jesus would have said, I’m sure,” Monette told her.

Later, the reverend received a message requesting he not bring his wife to board meetings. Monette probably wouldn’t be welcome in Congress, either.

Despite our excellent Constitution, there have always been those in our country denied social justice. We have made progress, but lately, even as we press forward, some of that progress is slipping away.

Schools in poor districts operate without libraries and librarians. Forty and 50 students in a classroom insure that some of them will fall through the cracks.

Not to worry, our for-profit prisons will take up the slack. It doesn’t seem to bother plutocrats that prisoners cost more than students.

Hardworking people are uninsured. They lack basic preventive care and the education to make good health choices.

Bankers get bailed out; homeowners who are victims of legal gambling schemes do not.

In a country that exports food, children go hungry.

We maintain the largest military complex in the world. Despite all the money we spend on bases and bombs, returning soldiers with mental issues roam, homeless, in our city streets.

Factory farms and industrial agri-businesses get paid to monopolize the agriculture system.

Legislators and state officials bow down to the ruling class of plutocrats rather than take care of the citizens who voted them into office.

These are dangerous times. Where is Woody Guthrie when we need a voice crying out for social justice? We don’t have Woody, but we do have the Woody Poets who are gathering in Oklahoma City and Okemah this week.

On Saturday, July 13, from 1 to 4 p.m., we will be at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 202 North 3rd, in Okemah. Poets, including Oklahoma Poet Laureate Nathan Brown, will be accompanied by jazz great David Amram.

If you can’t make it to Okemah, come to Oklahoma City on Friday evening, July 12, from 6:30-7:45 p.m., in the screening room at the Paramount OKC, 701 West Sheridan.

Join us and be inspired to carry on the fight for social justice and equality.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. She also is one of the Woody Poets who will be reading Friday night in OKC and Saturday in Okemah.



  1. The Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival is also in progress in Okemah, July 10-14. I believe the Woody Poets even is part of the events.

    The outdoor concerts at the Pastures of Plenty stage are free (small charge for parking, although you can walk into the event free), and there are many low-priced fundraisers at various venues around town. Performers do not charge fees for performing, but their travel is paid by the festival.

    Get there for breakfast on Saturday morning and meet Woody Guthrie’s sister. Mary Jo Guthrie’s traditional Saturday morning Pancake Breakfast at Lou’s Rocky Road Tavern, a Huntington’s research fundraiser, is on. Mary Jo is Woody’s feisty sister, and a treasure to listen to. At the first festival in 1998, she invited my wife and I to sit with her in the Guthrie family section at the Crystal Theater when we arrived late and no other seats were available. She’s a sweetheart.

    Annie Guthrie will be there (Woody’s daughter), along with Trout Fishing in America. Arlo usually shows up. About 20 performers in all, some national, many with Oklahoma roots. Festival favorites Ellis Paul, Jimmy LaFave, Joel Rafael and the Red Dirt Rangers are on the bill.

    Check it out. Okemah is about 100 miles west of OKC I-40, south of Tulsa

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
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Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.