Every third Monday of January – a day close to his birthday – we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Every year since 2013 on that day, I post Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In it, he says, “The time is always ripe to do right.” Powerful words from a powerful man that each of us should take to heart… “The time is always ripe to do right.” April 4, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. While I do not claim it as a day of celebration, I claim it as a day to remember this great man, a man who during his lifetime was viewed unfavorably – 1966 Gallup poll – by two-thirds of Americans. In remembering Dr. King, I am reminded of the three evils of society that he forever spoke against with words, actions, and deeds: War, Racism, and Poverty.
We Are Coming
On August 31, 1967, he began his speech at the National Conference on New Politics with these words,
“We have come here from the dusty plantations of the Deep South and the depressing ghettos of the North. We have come from the great universities and the flourishing suburbs. We have come from Appalachian poverty and from conscience stricken wealth. But we have come. And we have come here because we share a common concern for the moral health of our nation. We have come because our eyes have seen through the superficial glory and glitter of our society and observed the coming of judgment. Like the prophet of old, we have read the handwriting on the wall. We have seen our nation weighed in the balance of history and found wanting. We have come because we see this as a dark hour in the affairs of men…”
In his speech, Dr. King challenged America – all the world, for that matter – to reassess its attitude and subsequent approach to war, poverty, and racism. The speech was delivered more than a half a century ago, yet America still finds itself embroiled in a never-ending war in Afghanistan. Poverty sits just under our noses, and racism thrives maliciously within our own borders and around the entire planet as well.
We Will Be Heard
Dr. King concluded his speech,
“… cowardice asks the question, is it safe; expediency asks the question, is it politic; vanity asks the question, is it popular, but conscience asks the question, is it right. And on some positions, it is necessary for the moral individual to take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular; but he must do it because it is right. And we say to our nation tonight, we say to our Government, we even say to our FBI, we will not be harassed, we will not make a butchery of our conscience, we will not be intimidated, and we will be heard.”
I humbly but firmly ask that everyone who reads this make a conscious effort to do something every day to thwart war, end racism, and eliminate poverty. “It can’t be done,” you are inclined to say. “Only if you refuse to try.” To paraphrase Dr. King,
“We are coming and we will be heard!”
Take two minutes to listen to this short excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech. Let his words resonate in your mind. Give his words a permanent home in your brain. It can be done.