Today is the official Martin Luther King
As a boy growing up in the South in the 1960s, I saw the pernicious effects of racism firsthand, and was inspired by the Rev. King’s faith, courage and eloquence, his message of brotherhood and his dream of a colorblind society where Americans weren’t separated by race and where people were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
He was not a “social justice activist” in the current sense, nor just an eloquent speaker. He was a preacher, one of the greatest ever. He didn't give political speeches, he gave sermons. And like all great sermons, they relied on the teachings of the Gospel to inspire his listeners to renounce the grievous sin of racism and follow, as Lincoln put it, “the better angels of our nature.” He taught us that as God created us all in His image, hating someone for the way they look is a sin against God.
Today, when we celebrate the man who did so much to achieve the goal of recognizing and repudiating that sin, it’s more important than ever to remember what he said, because in recent years, his legacy has been under intense assault. A movement has arisen that’s tearing America apart by yanking from the ash heap of history such terrible ideas as judging people solely by skin color, bringing back segregated spaces and blaming children for the sins of their fathers. This racial separatist poison is the opposite of the Rev. King’s message, and any attempts to co-opt his name to promote it are detestable.
I’m sure that today will bring many speeches that will try to use the Rev. King’s name to cynically promote divisive political and racial agendas. Instead of listening to them, go to the source. Listen to his original “I Have A Dream” speech, and see if it sounds anything like the anti-American nightmare these charlatans are promoting.
And here are some timely comments from a woman I’m honored to call my friend, the Rev. King’s niece, Alveda King.
There are many good ways to commemorate the important legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. However, proposing racist laws that destroy free speech is not one of them.
Neither is giving a speech that’s full of gaffes and jaw-dropping lies that everyone knows are lies because you told them before.
And I think that people of good will from across the political spectrum can all come together as one to agree that this is absolutely not the way to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
Another important holiday also happens to fall this year on Martin Luther King Day, and it’s one that I think he would approve of: National Religious Freedom Day.
At a time when religious freedom is under assault even in America, where it’s a bedrock principle protected by the First Amendment, it’s even more endangered around the world. This day is set aside to promote a “live and let live” message of “peace, love, and acceptance” and that everyone has a human right to their own religious beliefs and to worship freely.