Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2021
On Monday we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, more than ever, it is a day for us to reconfirm our commitment to the ideals that Dr. King lived by and worked for.
Throughout his life, Dr. King fought for civil rights, social equality and freedom for Black and other marginalized people. From the earliest moments of his professional life, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. embraced a framework of nonviolent resistance to widespread racial discrimination and economic inequality. These ideas formed the foundation of his activism and the topics of his public speeches and sermons.
When his home was bombed, Dr. King urged a peaceful but persistent response. In the organizations that began to form to pursue the goals of civil rights, Dr. King insisted on the principles of nonviolence. When he met with civic leadership—from Montgomery all the way to the White House—his focus on justice never wavered.
Stabbed and nearly killed by a deranged racist in New York City, King refused to take the path of violence. Arrested and imprisoned 29 times over the course of his life, King understood the role of leader of a nonviolent movement to bring about change, refusing to arm himself or carry a gun.
In 1960, Dr. King and his family moved to Atlanta, and he became the assistant pastor to his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. From the pulpit at Ebenezer, King preached the principles of nonviolent engagement to bring about social justice and change.
King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Monument in 1963, galvanized the movement, as 200,000 people rallied peacefully for jobs and freedom. Dr. King never wavered in his commitment to the cause of freedom—and to the nonviolent means by which it was pursued.
In 1964, at age 36, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize—the youngest person to ever receive it.
Dr. King was assassinated by a white supremacist on April 4, 1968, but the violent act that ended Dr. King’s life did not mute his voice or diminish his message. “I have also decided to stick with love…,” he declared in a speech in 1967. “Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
May God grant us the wisdom, grace, and courage to embrace the ideals for which Dr. King lived and died. May his dream of a just and equal society be strengthened in our hearts and lived out or brought to reality through our Mission.