January 17, 2011, Martin Luther King Day
Today is Martin Luther King Day, the first of 10 official National Holidays. It is not wrong to say it is to honor Dr. King. It is not wrong to say it is to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. It is just shallow. To focus exclusively on Dr. King is to focus on a sinner like the rest of us. To make a day to honor black Americans would be contrary to the goal of Dr. King.
Let us focus on his vision. These selections are from, in my opinion, one of his four most important speeches.
I HAVE A DREAM, August 23, 1963
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. . .
Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood . . .
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. (emphasis mine)
I have a dream today. . . .
We can truly celebrate Martin Luther King Day by insisting on high character in our own personal conduct, in the work of our churches, in our businesses, in all those who claim to be bringing us the news and in all our elected officials and leaders.
When leaders like Senator Durbin or Congressman Clyburn demonstrates a deficiency of character, as they did last week, we should call them on it. When our media reporters, commentators, and anchors demonstrate a deficiency of character, as they did last week, we should call them on it. As we mark this MLK DAY, let us proclaim that on January 17, 2011, the issue in America is not the color of their skin. It is character!