We have seen the first Black woman and first person of Asian American descent sworn in as our country’s vice president.
We have seen a literal assault on our democracy in the deadly events of Jan. 6 that some have referred to as a failed coup attempt or insurrection.
Another such “first” is the fact that this week marked the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day we have celebrated after our nation’s social justice and racial discrimination reawakening – precipitated by the death of George Floyd last May. The sustained focus on that tragedy reinforces the fact that Minneapolis remains at the epicenter of not just the senseless tragedy, but, more importantly, our community’s call to lead the national racial reconciliation dialog.
So, on this first occasion to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King following the death of George Floyd, it seems timely to reexamine some of Dr. King’s words to assess their ongoing relevance in the present time.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the voice and face of the nascent U.S. civil rights movement upon his ascension to the role of president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. He led marches of peaceful resistance, spoke widely on civil rights issues, and met with domestic and world leaders in order to further justice and peace. Cities across America erupted in protests, some of them violent, calling for social and economic justice. The country was embroiled in a bitter war in Southeast Asia that ultimately claimed nearly 60,000 American lives. An election year took on mammoth proportions in 1968 as it did in our most recent elections. There were tumultuous times then just as there are tumultuous times now.
As we reflect on the present and on the times in which he lived, let us ponder some of Dr. King’s words: