Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If your children aren’t familiar with Dr. King’s legacy, today would be a good day to help them understand who he was, what he fought for, and most importantly HOW he fought for it.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
Dr. King was cut down before his dream could be realized. But even if he’d lived out his life, died of old age, he wouldn’t have seen his dream realized. Dr. King’s dream is still a dream–one that some feel will never be possible. But my guess is nothing but death would have stopped him; and maybe that’s what we should remember most of all. Maybe that’s the idea we should emphasize to our children, to our friends, to everyone we know: that nothing but death should stop us from striving to make things right.
Because the world IS changing. We have a person of color for our president. Across the nation, one state at a time, gay marriage is becoming a reality. There’s a new pope calling for compassion and justice for the poor. Yes there is backlash. Yes there is still so much work to be done. But it will never get done if we don’t, as Dr. King said, “make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”
This famous speech is as important now as it was in 1963. Watch and see.
If you’d rather read it than watch and listen, you can read the transcript here.