The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is a day set aside for measuring ourselves against the yardstick of King’s hope and dream. It is a time to reflect on our moral obligation to condemn social and economic systems that rob people of dignity and equal opportunity. It is a time to remember the philosophy of non-violent action for creating positive social change, and to pay tribute to those still in the struggle against racism and injustice. To renew our commitment to love, not hate; to show understanding, not anger; and to make peace, not war. The holiday invites us to act – to act in a way that reaches out to those who are among the most vulnerable and in a way that reminds our elected officials that investment in human capital pays great dividends.
Today the tide of fear and anger threatens all of us. The crisis in America gives us a great opportunity to move from symbolism to substance to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, and insure domestic tranquility.” As we teach our children to stand up for pledges and anthems, let us also show them how to stand up for justice, fairness, and humanity. We must individually examine our words and deeds to make sure we do not contribute toward the toxic environment of racism and inequality. We must end hateful rhetoric that creates an environment of violence. We must renew our commitment to compassion, understanding and love.
Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all other civil rights activists and advocates of human rights, for challenging our great nation to live up to the historic principles outlined in the Preamble of our Constitution in that all people regardless of race, color, or creed would be included in “We the People.”