Like many other Americans, I am fortunate enough to have off for Martin Luther King Day — and I plan to spend most of it far away from a computer screen. However, I did want to share links to three things I accessed on the web this morning that helped me, and might help you, to think about the views, work, and legacy of the civil rights champion.
1. The New York State Museum has uncovered and released audio of Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing the New York State Civil War Centennial Commission on September 12, 1962. The 26-minute speech, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the issuance of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, was delivered roughly one year before MLK was assassinated.
2. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays protests, has written an opinion piece for Al Jazeera America on how MLK’s religiously shaped moral values influenced and inspired his social and political activism, as well as the activism of countless others who bravely rallied for civil rights. It’s an interesting read which I might have more to say about later this week.
3. Every MLK Day for several years now I have taken the time to re-read his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which was penned on April 16, 1963, while MLK was imprisoned for disobeying an injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing” in Birmingham, Alabama. In the letter, King argues that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws and calls for increased nonviolent resistance to racism.
So, to those with the day off, enjoy it. But don’t forget that this day provides a good opportunity to reflect on not just the life of MLK, but also what you have done, or what you could be doing, to further King’s dream, which remains unfulfilled in many ways.