Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

If there was ever a need for us to reignite the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the time is now. Today we celebrate the birth, the life, and the sacrifice of one of the world’s most influential leaders in modern American history. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a Baptist minister, civil rights activist, HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) graduate, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was most notably to AFSCME, a voice for labor rights.

A​​​​​s we reflect upon his impact, let us revisit his words from his famous I’ve Been To The Mountaintop speech at the Mason Temple, in Memphis Tennessee, on the night of April 3rd, 1968.
Dr. King Jr speaks to the idea of choosing one’s place in time, walking the audience through various events in human history, arriving at the present, 1968, and the turmoil facing the nation.
Dr. King Jr, in his audible journey, expressed his desire to look and live in the not so pleasant second half of the 20th Century. Dr. King Jr explained,
“Now that's a strange statement to make because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around…Something is happening in our world. (Yeah) The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.’
And another reason I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them…”

We reflect on Dr. King’s words as we grapple with the year 2020, the world’s eyes cast upon America, as we watched, protested, and mourned the catastrophically tumultuous racially motivated killing of Amaud Aubery and police killings/shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and countless others.  We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that most, if not all, of us, at least had one fleeting thought, of how our civil rights champion, must be rolling in his tomb.
But when we revisit his final speech, given in Memphis where Dr. King had traveled to support the striking AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers, we know that not to be true.

If he were alive and able to traverse through this time, yes we imagine he would be saddened by the race relations, political, and economic state of America. But he would also be happy to see the rising up of generations of Americans, who have chosen not to stand idly by and let hate win.

He would be saddened by the insurrection at the United States Capitol. But he would’ve been happy to celebrate Americans’ November 2020 attempt at eradicating hate. He would’ve been happy to be in the State of Georgia, where Black people stood in voting lines for countless hours with the hopes and ultimately the success in aiding the Executive branch with a more promising Congress.

As we celebrate Dr. King Jr today, we honor him with our activism and continued commitment to justice and equality.

Let us honor him by continuing to fight for fair wages, fair housing, equal pay, civil rights, and human rights. Let us all honor him by continuing this fight until we are indeed, all free.

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