Today is a national holiday that commemorates the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the larger civil rights movement of which he was such an important part.
America and the world has changed a great deal since King was assassinated in 1968, most of it for the better. Certainly, the country is a far more hospitable place for African Americans than it was in King’s day.
I hope that President Obama’s recent comments on marijuana legalization augur the beginning of the end of the drug war, which causes for more disruption in the black community than the sort of overt racism King fought against.
The problem is that in the minds of too many Americans, King is primarily a “black” leader and the civil rights movement he has come to embody is principally the endowment of black Americans. But that view inappropriately qualifies the man and the movement. King wasn’t narrowly interested in race; he was broadly committed to justice.
So it’s fitting that the MLK memorial’s sole quotation directly referencing race contextualizes the subject within King’s broader project. “If we are to have peace on earth,” the memorial reads, “our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalty must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation, and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
The memorial highlights King’s broad passion for justice in other contexts as well. Consider this inscription: “I oppose the war in Vietnam* because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desired to see our beloved country stand as a moral example to the world.”
Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
The NEWS takes up the fight for eliminating the stigma around Mary Jane because it is the right thing to do.
(*- Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated before he could know that the ‘war’ was started on a lie, see Gulf of Tonkin incident; story sources Kmele Foster, Nick Gillespie)