MLK Day

In the United States, today is a day to honor the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a prominent civil rights leader who fought to end Jim Crow laws and the systematic beatings, disenfranchisement and marginalization of african-americans, especially within the American South. He was assassinated, and we remember him because in most of his aims he succeeded. He dreamed of a world beyond racism and segregation, a world beyond bigotry and hatred, and tried to make that world come true through non-violent resistance to the laws that most plainly stood in its way. In that he didn’t really succeed, but he got us alot closer than we were before him and subsequent leaders have tried to carry us even farther.

He’s one of my personal heroes. I am glad he lived, and sad he died. Sometimes it angers me to see people abuse and misuse and misappropriate his legacy for their particular political objective, such as this. But that happens. Everyone’s experience with historical figures (and he is unfortunately a historical figure now, thanks to the assassin’s bullet) is different, of course, and maybe I shouldn’t spend much time worrying about people whose experiences differ from my own. So I won’t. I’m just glad he existed, that he has been a positive example for so many people, and I hope he remains that way for generations to come.

Thank you, Dr. King. You made the world a better place, and showed us how we could make it even better ourselves by following your example. I’m going to go and read some of your words now, just to refresh my memory. A reading list follows, if anyone wants to follow along with me:

* “I have a Dream”

* “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break Silence”

* Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

* Letter from the Birmingham Jail

* Eulogy for the 16th st. Baptist Church bombing victims

* The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

* Where We Are Going

* The Purpose of Education

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