Keeping Martin Luther King's dream alive
Keeping Martin Luther King's dream alive year-round
January 13, 2003
On Jan. 20, the nation will again celebrate the life accomplishments of the slain civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I will also honor the legacy of Dr. King in my own personal way.
Dr. King was a man of God. He submitted himself to the will of God in order to heal a racially divided America. Dr. King, along with thousands of other dedicated Americans, sacrificed his life so that future generations could learn to live in peace and harmony with one another. Dr. King had courage and did not live in fear. He said, “An individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences, whatever they are. If he is filled with fear, he cannot do it...because I think that when a person lives with the fear of the consequences for his personal life, he can never do anything in terms of lifting the whole of humanity and solving many of the social problems that we confront.”
I was 10 years old when Dr. King was assassinated. His death changed my life forever, because even as a young child, I realized that the responsibility of challenging the status quo was a task to be embraced by all Americans, but especially true for African Americans. The work of Dr. King is not complete. Until the gap between rich and poor narrows and discrimination practices are eliminated, the need to follow the teachings of Dr. King are perhaps more important now than they were during the 1960s.
Many churches and community organizations will commemorate the holiday in grand fashion. There will be hymns sung, poems read, dances performed and awards presented. All of these activities are wonderful and I’m sure that Dr. King would be pleased.
However, once the last drum beat sounds, the politicians and dignitaries leave and the lights are turned out on Jan. 20, what steps will be taken by the community on Jan. 21 and the remaining 345 days of the year to insure that Dr. King’s dream is not deferred? Will the community be active or passive in addressing serious issues of protecting our civil rights?
Dr. King was arrested 125 times and jailed many times for civil disobedience. He was sentenced to serve four months in the Reidsville Prison in Georgia. This man paid a very high price for the cost of freedom for mankind.
The King holiday is not a day to stay home, go to the mall or sleep. It is a day to honor a great American. We can honor his legacy by teaching his principles of nonviolence, passive resistance and faith in God to our children. Ask yourself. Have I supported Dr. King’s dream where all God’s children can live in peace and harmony, or have I perpetuated the nightmare of violence, hostility and racism? In the end, we will not only be judged on our collective history, but our personal content of character. I have a dream that our society will continually embrace and implement Dr. King’s dream.
Leontyne Peck, Cumberland
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008