Honoring A Great Man

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Some people don’t think any more of the day other than the fact that it is a holiday and a day off work. Other people are irritated that there is yet another holiday to inconvenience them by closing banks, the postal service, and other government offices. Thank goodness, there are many more who recognize the importance of what he accomplished in his lifetime and the need to celebrate and honor that.

King was not a perfect man. Like all men, he had his strengths and his weaknesses. Most of those weaknesses were in his personal life, but in the public arena his strengths were many. He was an inspiring orator, an effective leader of men and women, and a force of significant change in our country. Which is why it is so important to teach our kids and grandchildren the legacy that King left us.

Here in my small town there is an annual celebration that draws close to two hundred people, which is good since the population is just over 3,000. The majority of those people are African-American, but more and more people of other colors and cultures show up each year. There are, of course, the obligatory speeches by city and church leaders, but there is also a wide variety of entertainment, singing and dancing and dramatic readings of some of King’s most memorable speeches. It is always a good reminder of what Dr. King stood for.

I have had to miss those gatherings for the past couple of years because of this nasty Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, and will miss this year because I will be in Sherman to have the inspection for my new house. But in the years that I attended the event and the energy it created always reminded me of the years of being active in the Civil Rights Movement while I was in college. We have made significant strides in acceptance and equality since the 60s, yet prejudice and bigotry still impact our society way too much, and Dr. King’s mission will not be complete until that no longer happens.

We will not see true equality until all men and women of all colors and religions and cultures can reach across the great chasm that divides us with openness and acceptance.

It distresses me to have to say it, but here in the United States our current president is not helping to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness in our country, or abroad. His challenging and demeaning remarks about other leaders of governments, as well as his disparaging remarks about certain countries are very divisive, and that is no way to support social justice nationally or globally.

The good news is that few people will remember 45’s nasty remarks or impulsive Tweets ten years from now, and the words Dr. King left us will live on. We all know the  “I have a dream” speech that inspired so many of us to work toward peace and equality, and still does. But there are many other quotes that are not so well known. One of my favorites is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Wonderful words, but only wonderful if we take them to heart and act on them. My fervent hope is that we do.

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Check out more Dr. King quotes here at Brainy Quotes.

And do leave a comment to tell me how you are marking this special day today.

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