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We should all reflect on King’s life, legacy

In this April 30, 1966 photo, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd of some 3,000 persons in Birmingham, Ala., in Kelly Ingram Park on the last day of his three-day whistle-stop tour of Alabama, encouraging black voters to vote as a bloc in the primary election.
In this April 30, 1966 photo, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd of some 3,000 persons in Birmingham, Ala., in Kelly Ingram Park on the last day of his three-day whistle-stop tour of Alabama, encouraging black voters to vote as a bloc in the primary election. AP File

On Monday, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a time to think about Dr. King and his legacy of civil rights for America. He motivated through his movement’s nonviolent marches and protests President Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was a tragedy for the nation that an assassin’s bullet kept Dr. King from leading the cultural transition in the years following.

Movements throughout history generally involve a strong charismatic person of leadership. In Dr. Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement also had a man of character. “Let us also remember the faith that compelled Dr. King to action. It was his faith that gave him the boldness and freedom to stand for justice and demand equality,” said Project 21 member Demetrius Minor.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“The holiday celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King should cause us all to pause and reflect on his historic importance. One of Dr. King’s most important contributions was that he exhorted Americans to resist the gravitational pull of racial identity and famously challenged us all to value the content of character above skin color,” said Joe R. Hicks, a Project 21 member and former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Hicks continues, “Dr. King was not just a great black leader but a great American leader. The value of his wise counsel has outgrown racial limits. Dr. King’s historical contributions stand in stark contrast to the racial divisiveness of today’s self-proclaimed black leaders.”

By 2008, America was prepared to accept a black candidate for president of the United States, electing Barack Hussein Obama. Obama marketed himself to the American people as penicillin to the nation’s racial woes. A vote for Obama was a vote for unity. How could anyone vote against that? America saw Obama not for who he actually was personally or ideologically, but for who they “projected” him to be.

The nation became disenchanted as President Obama sowed racial strife rather than healing and after eight years left the nation in racial turmoil, encouraging racial identity politics and racial victim hood rather than racial harmony. I believe Dr. King would be greatly disappointed in President Obama fumbling the opportunity he had to help “heal” America for the long haul.

As exemplified in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King was unafraid to confront authority or the church he was a part of for their lack of standing for right and understanding unjust laws. “The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has a legal and a moral responsibility to do so. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ ”

(I recommend everyone read Dr. King’s “Letter” to get an understanding of the times and situations that motivated him to say and do what he did. It should be required reading in high schools during Black History Month, as should be Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.)

I’ll close with this quote from Dr. King from his “I Have a Dream” speech: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ ... I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Amen.

Mike Fullilove of Long Beach writes about local, state and national issues from a conservative perspective.

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