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Martin Luther King holiday a call to arms

Ronald Mitchell
Martin Luther King holiday a call to arms
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, civil rights warriors.

On Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.  Day, a national holiday that honors the life and legacy of one of America’s most prominent civil rights leaders. King would have been 95 today, if he had not been assassinated by a white supremacist who wanted to stop the fight for freedom and justice in this country.

Although the assassin took King’s life, he could never stop the progress of the Civil Rights Movement, which King, his wife, Coretta Scott King, and other activists fought for. Some sacrificed their lives.   

They fought to give everyone a fair chance in this country, live the American dream and thrive without fear. They fought for equal education no matter what neighborhood you were born in or the color of your skin. They fought for everyone to have an equal chance to truly be the best that they could be.

That is the true dream of Martin and Coretta King.

Across the country, we see tremendous progress in many ways. But racism, fascism and hate are on the rise and threatening to erode that dream. There are people in our political, business and social structures and systems who want to turn the clock back to the Jim Crow era, when inequality, fear and hatred of people of color reigned.

Scapegoating, fearmongering, and race-baiting were common tactics used by those in power to disenfranchise the rights and freedoms of others. Today, unfortunately too many in our country are implementing the same tactics to try to grab and hold on to power through lies and tear down the emblems of change. The false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen perpetuated by our former president, that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts somehow minimize the greatness of our nation instead of benefitting it, and that immigrants are poisoning the blood of Americans are slashing away at our past gains. 

“Alternative facts,” given new life on social media platforms that put profits over truth, are the new reality for millions of people. 

King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And it is clear that too many seek to capitalize on the injustice of others for their own benefit. Let’s heed King’s words: “The triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in a ‘Beloved Community.’ When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.”

Worldwide every year, we remember King, recite his speeches and reflect on his vision for this country. 

But we should also embody King’s warrior spirit and accept nothing less than the freedom and justice we all deserve.

There are many who would say that there is only one way to be a warrior for justice, contending that King’s approach is outdated. But let’s not forget that even though King and Malcolm X did not always agree with each other’s tactics, they both understood the truth — that together they could move our country towards true freedom.

Today is no different. It will take all people of good faith to put aside their differences, embrace one another, search for true solutions to our problems, and create a more perfect union. King was a warrior, and it is going to take many more warriors to make sure that this great country keeps moving forward.

If you really want to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, be a warrior for peace, justice, equality and freedom. Use all the weapons in your arsenal, including the ability to show love for everyone.

King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Let’s not squander our progress and prosperity that so many sacrificed their lives for, including Dr. King. It’s time that we all stand together and become warriors for peace and justice as Martin and Coretta King did.