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January 2024 Spotlight: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

The timeless messages woven into the powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenge our hearts and minds to live a lifestyle that promotes peace, unity in our humanity and justice. His charge is the soundtrack of countless individuals, and the mantra of organizations and institutions standing in the front lines to protect the oppressed and grapple with the reality of inequalities in the world. It is a banner and reminder to tirelessly advance our country’s foundational truths unto their manifestation:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We pause to reflect on these fundamental truths in which Dr. King dedicated his life. We quiet our minds to hear the echoes of his exhortation as we contemplate his words and commit ourselves again to live our lives as agents of change.

Dr. King was a reader. Some of his most famous speeches are quoted from what many consider the greatest works of literature and writers in history. The foundation of his message was built upon faith. He deepened his studies and research to equip himself for the cause of justice by reading the works of Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry David Thoreau. Reading is a privilege and access to empowerment and freedom that we often overlook. Yet, it is the way of life for the change maker. May we read with a passion to learn more and with an awareness that knowledge and wisdom can equip us to make lasting change.

Dr. King was a writer. His works are infamous and still speak to encourage us. His Letter from Birmingham Jail proclaimed “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. His words echo with wisdom and his voice resounds in the walkways of our minds making his songlike voice audible to our hearts ear. Through his writing he still speaks. And so, let us write. All of us. May our voices of change be heard forever through the power of the written word.

Dr. King was a speaker. He was a profound orator. The melody of his tone and timbre of his infamous speech, I Have a Dream, has the power to put to sleep the giant question of diversity, equity and inclusion some may have. King’s inviting tone and words lure the heart and intellect to feel and think beyond the existing situation and visualize how things should be. That is what he did from the beginning. That is what his speeches do now and what they charge us to do. Speak. Speak to groups on equality and fairness. Speak to your class, your church group, or stakeholders at your workplace or private organizations of association. May we speak up in situations when others cannot speak for themselves.

Dr. King was an organizer. He was strategic; a team player. He worked in community with others and for others. Passionate and not impulsive, desperate for change, but not frantic. He planned with others with the skill and foresight of a seasoned general in the battle for justice and equality. Dr. King was thoughtful and encouraged and inspired the oppressed and their allies, and challenged doubters to think. May we organize strategic plans that bring forth change, and implement processes that make the difference.

May we continue to stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us like Dr. King. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are encouraged to look back with thankful hearts and look forward to continue doing the good work of justice and fairness. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Whatever we do, let us continue to move forward.