Martin Luther King Jr. was a person I vividly recall from my childhood and have read about every year since.
One benefit of longevity is to recall events from your life and compare these with current events. I lived in North Carolina as a boy in the 1960s and I recall events of that time.
As a sign of enduring legacy, in 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed a law making the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday. A national holiday is a great gift as it allows us a day to remember and reflect on his life’s work and legacy. Today, January 15th, his true birthday, I choose to take time to remember and reflect.
In 1963 King lead a peaceful march of 250,000 people in Washington D.C. where he delivered a speech that came be known as his “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech was a powerful message to me a child and has resonated with me since.
While many remember King and can link that memory with his “I Have a Dream” speech, fewer know that he gave an acceptance speech for a Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964.
In the acceptance speech, given on behalf of the civil rights movement, King said, “After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
King continued, “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
Love was a good foundation in 1964 when I was 4 years old, and love is still a good foundation today, and every day. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.