During this year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy, I found myself pondering more and more about the true meaning of his legacy and to question if all of the activities (i.e. breakfasts, days of service, parades, speeches, etc. etc. etc.) really have done more to mock his legacy than to embrace it and build upon it.
When most of us ponder the legacy and life of Dr. King, the usual response revolves around descriptors of social protest centered on non-violence, injustice, racism and poverty. Those answers do appropriately identify his causes, but do they accurately define his legacy?
I say no to merely limiting discussions and activities around Dr. King’s legacy as just political and social descriptors of his causes. This lack of knowledge has been the under pennant for the sad mischaracterization of the barrage of activities that have surfaced as a celebration of his life and legacy.Take for example the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott., this campaign by some accounts lasted for 382 days, some accounts have it shorter and some accounts longer. The point is the campaign attacking the policy of racial desegregation in the Montgomery, Ala. transit system took place over an extended period of time. The ruling declaring desegregation of Alabama’s transit system as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court did not happen after a one day or week long campaign.
The Montgomery bus boycott, which history has defined as one of the pivotal events of the Civil Rights Movement, resulted in the Supreme Court’s favorable ruling only after courage, struggle, sacrifice and struggle.
These symbolic activities have served the world well as an awareness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, but now during these times of complex social, political and economic uncertainties that plague us today — now more than ever — it is time we get to work, operating within the true spirit of Dr. King’s legacy as evidenced through hard work, sacrifice and unyielding focus on the goal!
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you, Dr. King!