As we celebrate this extraordinary historic figure, we recognize his bold actions and calm but assertive posture were pivotal in moving this nation to face and take action against the inequity, inequality, and injustices exacted on a people whose integral role in the building of this nation had been sorely dishonored and denigrated.
On his historic holiday, varied commemorative observances and celebrations will revisit Dr. King's famous speech delivered during the 1963 March on Washington. Unfortunately, in our present socio-political climate, there are some who wish to marginalize Dr. King as only a man who had a dream. Therefore we must remain vigilant in maintaining his historic value to the entire nation.
Dr. King, I believe, was destined to be a consequential pastor, a gifted theologian, a prolific orator, a motivating visionary but also an undaunted and relentless activist, tasked to speak truth to power even at the peril of his own personal, political, and physical security.
For future generations, we must maintain the relevance of this national hero. For me, the quality of Dr. King’s heroism is measured as much by who he chose to be when he became less admired than in former times.
We must remember in the latter part of his life Dr. King was ostracized by many who had championed his earlier causes. His stance against the Vietnam War and his concentration on economic parity over social parity had led to his rejection in “high places”. Remember, his last speech, aka, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” was delivered while seeking economic justice for garbage men. It brings to mind what Pastor Martin Luther King would have learned from the teaching of Christ: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Lest we forget, let us remember at the time of his assassination, Dr. King was deeply involved in planning the poor people’s campaign in Washington, to call recognition to government’s role in insuring that equity, equality, and justice are rights that belong to the poor also.
Working corporatively with his sister, Dr. Christine King Ferris, while she taught at Spellman College and I taught across the street at Morehouse College, gave me a unique opportunity to speak with her and to grasp and appreciate at another level the cost of the sacrifices this dynamic man was willing to make for the sake of humanity and righteousness.
As we commemorate Dr. King’s holiday, we should ask ourselves what is the depth of our willingness to serve and how we can best respond to it meaningfully.