Opinion

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by remembering the dream

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Aug. 28, 1963

On Jan. 15, 1929, the son of Rev. and Mrs. Martin Luther King Sr., was born into a nation divided by segregation and hatred. Thirty-nine years later, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while he stood speaking on the balcony of his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. And while his life was cut short by the very hatred he was preaching against, his dream still lives on.
And while the 40 years of Dr. Kings life were a period in American history filled with hatred and bigotry, it was also a time when Dr. King and his followers fought violence with pacifism, hatred with love, and bigotry with the desire that we should all live together in equality.
January 15 had been observed as a public holiday for many years in 27 states and Washington, D.C. In 1986, following the passage of Public Law 98-144, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring the third Monday in January as a public holiday in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. the only federal holiday commemorating an African-American.
On Jan. 15, Americans will celebrate the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott King, Dr. Kings wife and founder of the King Center, defined the meaning of the holiday by saying, The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. Kings character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit. She added, We call you to commemorate this holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King Jr.s dream. May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teaching and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century.
On Jan. 15, Americans across the country will celebrate the holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. King as they have since 1984 by serving in their communities by making the holiday A day on, not a day off. It was Dr. King who said, Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.
The day is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality and dignity of all races and people. It is a time to remember the message of change through nonviolence that was so central to Dr. Kings beliefs. Its a time to make a difference in your community by becoming involved by making every day a day on, not a day off.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Gods children, black men and white men, Jew and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the word of that old Negro spiritual Free at Last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Aug. 28, 1963


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