This is the 24th year that there’s been a holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s only the 10th year that every state in the union has celebrated it, as South Carolina, obviously the bastion for racial diversity (sarcasm; after all, they still fly the confederate flag), held out until that year. Actually, most people don’t know this one, but the city of Hiroshima, Japan, also celebrates the King holiday, being the only city in the world outside of the United States that celebrates a U.S. holiday.
You know, Dr. King never wanted to be a civil rights leader. He just wanted to be a small country preacher. But he stepped up to the plate and did what people needed him to do. He was beaten, kicked, and thrown in jail. He had his house fire bombed. He was stabbed in New York City. He was followed by the FBI and put on Edgar J. Hoover’s hate list. He both feuded with then lauded by Malcolm X. He led marches, gave speeches, and inspired a heck of a lot of people to positive, non-violent actions that conquered Jim Crow and segregation. And he took a bullet for it while supporting a cause that had nothing to do with civil rights, but the overall rights of others.
The past few years I’ve posted a video and some sound files on the King holiday, either on this blog or my business blog. One of the things proven by my last post, where I had to go back and correct all these videos, is that those things can easily disappear, and suddenly the message is missing. Instead, I’m going to change up just a little bit. I want to quote a passage from a speech he gave on July 4th, 1965 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. If you’d like to read the entire thing, you can check it out here. Here’s the two portions I want to share; happy birthday Dr. King:
“Now ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream in all of its magnificence—to use a big word that the psychiatrists use—America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself. On the one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy, but on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very opposite of those principles.
But now more than ever before, America is challenged to realize its dream, for the shape of the world today does not permit our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy. And the price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro and other minority groups is the price of its own destruction. For the hour is late. And the clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.
And so it is marvelous and great that we do have a dream, that we have a nation with a dream; and to forever challenge us; to forever give us a sense of urgency; to forever stand in the midst of the “isness” of our terrible injustices; to remind us of the “oughtness” of our noble capacity for justice and love and brotherhood.”
“Are we really taking this thing seriously? “All men are created equal.” And that means that every man who lives in a slum today is just as significant as John D., Nelson, or any other Rockefeller. Every man who lives in the slum is just as significant as Henry Ford. All men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that can’t be separated from you. Go down and tell them, You may take my life, but you can’t take my right to life. You may take liberty from me, but you can’t take my right to liberty. You may take from me the desire, you may take from me the propensity to pursue happiness, but you can’t take from me my right to pursue happiness. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights and among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Yes, sir)”