“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Yesterday we celebrated the life of one of our Nation’s greatest visionaries. Many of us went to church services and together with friends and family offered prayers, praise and song to his memory. Others of us revisited his teachings by reading, again, his speeches and quotes. Still others, longing for a return to his powerful oratory that sprung from his deep faith in the essential good of humanity—and his unshakeable faith that one day our Nation, and the world, would wake up to the racial and economic injustice plaguing it and by so seeing it, end it—may have watched some of his speeches preserved for our viewing. Some may have watched for the first time, others for the hundredth. And after a long and tortured course, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was finally granted federal recognition as a holiday, permitting those businesses offering non-essential services to close in honor of this man.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. King’s legacy, in the end, is yet to be determined. But his teachings offer us guidance into what he believed, held dear and ultimately gave his life for: equality for all. His teaching and advocacy gave birth to the civil rights movement which affects all of us to this day. Dr. King’s campaigns for civil rights included the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom; the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; and of course, the Selma to Montgomery marches. He was jailed in Birmingham in 1963. In 1964 Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. He was shot to death on April 4, 1968 in Memphis.
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Even though Dr. King’s dream of equality is yet to be achieved, and seems destined to come under yet new attacks in the coming days, we can, indeed we must, draw continued strength from his life. While alive, no setback, no obstacle was too great to dim his resolve to change the world so that all men and women, created equal, would be treated as equals. We must take his example of strength, resilience and persistence and forge our own tools to continue the fight for equality for all. Whatever our professions or skills, each one of us has a responsibility to all of us. As Dr. King said “Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”
So let us resolve to raise all people up. Let us resolve to move forward with Dr. King’s dream of equality for all. And let us do it today.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”