“[Martin] spoke out sharply for all the poor in all their hues, for he knew if color made them different, misery and oppression made them the same.”
— Coretta Scott King
I wrote this article last year in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. I could see then that America was fast approaching a dangerous precipice in race relations, and I felt MLK’s message could offer a path towards unity. I never imagined that four months later cities across the country would burn from unrest following the horrific death of George Floyd. I never dreamed that today America would sit on the verge of what many might call a civil war.
2020 has forced all of us to come to terms with inconvenient truths. One of the most distressing for me has been realizing how irrelevant MLK’s message seems to be now and how few people seem open to following his guidance. I see many who call for unity, but only if others embrace their point of view. I see many who seek equality while demanding that others be punished.
In the past several months, I’ve experienced backlash on social media for encouraging friends to consider different perspectives and not to assume everyone on the “other” side is bad. I’ve been accused of taking a posture that’s too “passive” and accommodating to dangerous people. I’ve been criticized for advocating a path that focuses more on what we have in common and less on what separates us.
I’ve been attacked for adopting a mindset that MLK would surely embrace in these troubling times.
I’m re-posting this article in the hope that readers will again consider the message of a man who led us from the shadows decades ago. I’m hoping it’s not too late for us to find our way into the light again.
When I was a kid growing up in the 70s, King’s legacy was everywhere — on schools and boulevards, in hospitals and museums, on postage stamps and…