Reason to celebrate this MLK holiday

Published 8:42pm Monday, January 14, 2013

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral.  And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say.  Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn’t important.  Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that’s not important.  Tell him not to mention where I went to school.  I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.  

— Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Drum Major Instinct”


As the nation prepares for the 57th inauguration, it cannot go unnoticed the date on which the nation’s first African American president will be sworn into office for his second term. On this day, we will also honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Historically, Inauguration Day has been on January 20th but when that day falls on a Sunday, the president has a private ceremony on Sunday and then holds a public ceremony on Monday.

To reflect on the election and re-election of President Obama, one cannot help but to notice that he embodies the dream of Dr. King. It would be easy to underscore that he is an African American but to do so is to diminish the dream of Dr. King. King’s dream was bigger than racial equality. When Dr. King spoke, he not only spoke of equality, but of freedom, peace and unity. He also spoke of peace instead of violence and hatred.

In today’s politics, it is common for politicians and political pundits to rely on inflammatory rhetoric to channel anger, bitterness, and hostility in attempts to scare voters to the polls. Dr. King specifically used peaceful means to advance the cause of racial equality, and famously said during his “I have a dream” speech, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

During his first bid for president, Obama said,  “…we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together…we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”  This is the embodiment of Dr. King’s dream. It is Dr. King’s policy to help those left at the bottom of the social economic ladder that drives the president. Isn’t that the American dream?

Whether or not you agree with his policies, President Obama’s re-election show how far we have come to achieving Dr. King’s dream. The only way we will meet the greatest challenges of our generation is to work together. That is the message and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and that is what we must remember as we honor him on Jan. 21.

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