I remember when they made Dr. King’s birthday a holiday. It’s hard to believe now, but there was controversy. Actually, it’s not hard to believe now. Here is one of my favorite quotes from MLK -
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King Jr.
We are living in a time that seems defined by that. It took until 1983 before Dr. King’s Birthday was signed into law and it wasn’t on the calendar until 1986. It wasn’t until 2000 that every state made it a holiday as well.
It took fifteen years from the time he was assassinated in 1968 until his birthday was made a federal holiday. It took another seventeen years for it to be recognized in all fifty states. Twenty-one years later - here we are on the celebrated birthday of a great man and we’re still seeing the same racist trash being spread. We are still seeing people of color being harassed and killed by police while doing everyday things or accused and assaulted by people without color while bird watching, standing in hotel lobbies, going to parks, or doing other day-to-day activities.
Dr. King advocated for non-violent protest to advance the civil rights of those oppressed by the systemic racism of our society. That systemic racism still exists. It is taught in our schools, re-enforced in television and film, and put into action by law enforcement, banks, and governmental agencies.
Why do we celebrate this man? I suppose the best way to show that is to share more of the man’s words.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”
“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
I hope that this holiday gives you a chance to think about this man, to ponder his wise words, and to find relevance for his message in our modern world.
CEO - Iwahai, Inc.