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King's legacy
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Monday, many celebrated the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Atlanta-born civil rights leader who inspired millions in the 1960s with his dream of a better life for all people, not just African-Americans.
That tenent of Dr. King’s life is often overlooked. While he rose to prominence as a civil rights leader during a time when society openly practiced discrimination against African Americans, and many of his efforts were geared toward making life better for this country’s black citizens, it seems to us King’s hopes were for all Americans — indeed, for all people.
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood,” Dr. King said in one of his most stirring speeches.
And at a time when there were many in both the black and white communities who thought violence was a way to further their goals, Dr. King remained committed to peace.
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon,” he said, “which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
This country has come a long way since those turbulent times. But we don’t believe Dr. King’s dream has yet been realized. There are still far too many of the same ills that plagued his time which continue to rear their ugly heads in our time. Too much poverty, too much racism — practiced by people of all colors against those who look or act differently — and too little understanding that what we allow to separate us makes us weaker, not stronger, and poorer, not richer.
Or as Dr. King put it, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
But there’s no doubt this country is a better, richer and nobler place because of Dr. King’s life – a man who looked to a day when people aren’t judged by skin color, but by their character.
“We may have all come on different ships,” he once said. “But we’re in the same boat now.”
Those words, and Dr. King’s vision, continue to ring true today.
The Bryan County News
Jan. 18, 2007
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