January 17, 2011
One Way to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today is to Ask: Are we continuing our forward stride toward the city of freedom?
While the victory to end racial discrimination still remains to be won, I believe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., if alive today, would also continue to be asking the collective conscience of our nation the following questions to engage us all to march forward toward the "city of freedom."
• Why are people living in this nation of ours hungry day in and day out, homeless day in and day out?
• Why are people unable to obtain the health care they need?
• Why are so many of our nation's children not getting the education they will need to live productive lives with some measure of hope?
• Why are people who come from the other side of a line drawn on a map and who are only seeking a better life for themselves and their families hunted down by our government?
To which we might add in the context of LLB, why are minorities, particularly ones with disabilities, still under-represented in the legal profession?
Quoting from Dr. Martin Luther King's acceptance address for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize [text and audio]:
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill proclaimed the rule of the land. And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and "every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that we shall overcome.
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
On the history of civil rights movement, visit Gannett's Civil Rights in America: Connections to a Movement. [JH]