In Memory Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I wasn’t planning to write anything about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this year. After all, he has been written about extensively over the years and especially on the anniversary of his birthday. What could I possibly add to the narrative that hasn’t been said many times before? What new angle could his life be observed from that would provide new insight or clarity? What would Dr. King think if he were here with us today?
Were he alive today, Dr. King would be 82 years old. I think that while he would see work left to be done, and might possibly be frustrated with the slow pace of change, Dr. King would nonetheless be pleased to see where we are as a nation with regards to race relations. While racism does exist in the United States and likely will always exist to some degree, we have elected an African-American president and African-Americans hold positions of power throughout our federal, state and local governments. African-Americans help shape policy, public opinion and culture. There are African-American head coaches in the NFL as well as many African-American quarterbacks. The NFL example may at first seem a bit trite, but African-American NFL head coaches and quarterbacks were unheard of during Dr. Kings lifetime. African-Americans have made great strides in every industry and every field of endeavor largely due to the work of Dr. King. While the work Dr. King started may not be finished, I believe he would be impressed with how the seed he planted has grown.
That being said, it is important to point out that Dr. King was an American. While African-Americans rightly feel a special bond with Dr. King and non African-Americans should avoid the appearance of trying to co-opt his legacy, this day that we have set aside to honor him is truly an American holiday. Dr. King made our country, his country, better and all Americans owe him a debt of gratitude. Very few people are able to affect lives on a large scale and leave the world a better place than when they found it. Dr. King was one of these rare people. He belongs not only to African-Americans but to America and the ages.
Dr. King was, and still is, a hero to Americans of all ethnic backgrounds. His message of peace and non-violence is as relevant today as it was in 1963 and should be embraced by all Americans.