Today we join believers in social justice and freedom around the world and Americans across the country in the recognition and celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At home in the States it is nearly impossible to step back far enough to fully appreciate the immensity of his footprint in our understanding of civil rights, the process of protest, and the importance of advocating for the values of justice, equity, and nonviolence in the face of prejudice and racism.
The recognition of his birthday is a regular national exercise time to examine his worlds, life and legacy. In 2021 it also seemed as if the recognition of Dr. King arrived a few weeks earlier in the this year. The riot at the U.S. Capitol on January caused many to reflect on the words of Dr. King. In the aftermath, people with myriad perspectives have taken to media and the internet to quote Dr. King in an attempt to unpack and understand what the Breach of the U.S. Capitol will ultimately mean for our country, and in some cases have attempted to use his words to justify the actions of the rioters or bolster their call to move on from the issue. While it does indeed feel distasteful to hear the words of a revered figure as Dr. King quoted by those that you emphatically disagree, it is also an important reminder of both Dr. King’s legacy as well as the work in which he challenged all Americans to participate. He reminded us that the work of justice is the responsibility of All Americans and that while that work is valuable and honorable, it is not easy. While justice is a goal to which we all aspire it takes determination, fortitude and hard work to bring about a world in which all Americans have access to freedom. His unique experiences illuminate a path for which we are all attempting to tread in thee hope that we can create a country that lives up to the true meaning of his creed. In marking that path we cannot be deluded into thinking that it will be without challenge or controversy, but that it is a path that will lead to a better place for us all.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Strength to Love, 1963
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. – “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” (May 17, 1956)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”