Monday, January 21, 2013
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson shares thoughts on MLK Day
A bullet will never erase Dr. King's legacy.
Even forty-five years since his assassination, the work and the message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have great meaning and relevance. Dr. King, whose father was a Baptist minister and whose mother was an accomplished church musician, helped to change the very soul of America. He gave hope to a generation of people who were searching for meaning in their lives, and to millions throughout the world who hungered for freedom and for change.
Dr. King stood boldly in the face of threats on his life and harm to his wife and four young children. He proclaimed that all people in this nation were equal. His work led to the passage of crucial Civil Rights legislation and to better relationships between various groups of American citizens.
A distinguished graduate of Morehouse College and Boston University, Dr. King did not begin his ministry to become a human rights legend. His major interest was to lead a congregation and preach messages of love, forgiveness and salvation on Sunday mornings.
Yet, history had a different role for Dr. King, who became a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. His powerful sermons are still quoted today from Cleveland to Cape Town. Dr. King sacrificed his life for the common good and for common people.
In April of 1968 Dr. King, who could have been a dinner guest at the White House or a concert patron in Carnegie Hall, was in Memphis, Tennessee protesting the treatment of underpaid sanitation workers.
Dr. King empathized with them, knew the value of their work and gave his life so that their lives might improve. He was in Memphis not because he had to be there, but because he believed that he should be there, and because he felt a commitment to those considered by many to be the “least of these.”
And now nearly half a century since a bullet ended a single majestic life, people across the globe will pause to remember the gift that he gave. The work of Dr. King, his commitment to others and his love for all people is still with us. May we continue to live in his spirit, and walk in the path that he helped to establish.