Jackson column: We must never forget MLK legacy
On Monday Jan. 17 the world will pause to observe the silver anniversary of the American National Holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a citizen of the world and a great American hero who is often referred to as the “Drum Major for Justice.”
In his memory people from all walks of life will congregate in houses of worship and community centers as one body in spirit and in truth, accented by our uniqueness, illuminated by our similarities. We will assemble to celebrate all that is good about our nation. On the King holiday we rejoice in our freedom, our liberty and in our inalienable rights. It is a day in which we are proud to be Americans and live the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We must never forget that our freedom was acquired at a high premium. More than 250,000 men and women have died in our several foreign and domestic wars. Unknown millions were lost in the tragic middle passage from West Africa to America’s eastern shore. We can only imagine the countless murdered slaves and unidentified bodies at the end of a lynch mob’s rope…Unknown soldiers martyred on a stage cluttered and crowded with the atrocities of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
On Monday we will pause to not only honor a man but the paradigm of a “beloved community” that he so vehemently advocated. God anointed him to speak to the conscience of America. He was an icon who represented the disenfranchised, discounted, forgotten and unheard masses.
King desperately wanted our nation to rise up and live out the true meaning of her creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” He was willing to fight hate with the powerful, healing love of Jesus to deliver his people from oppression. He believed that who the Son sets free is free indeed. He taught us that “unearned suffering is redemptive,” “you shall reap what you sow” and without social action there is no social change.
Eighty-two years ago on January 15, 1929, God blessed the world with Martin Luther King Jr. After 39 years well spent, on April 4, 1968, God beckoned him from labor to reward.
We are forever grateful that his life still impacts our lives. His dream, though sometimes deferred, is yet alive. His powerful words resonate in our ears and his truth still marches on in all people of faith, hope and love.
Let’s work for peace now, so that our living will not be in vain. Let’s live in peace so that Dr. King’s death was not in vain. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:2).
The Rev. Dr. George B. Jackson is founder and chairman of the Martin Luther King Social Action Committee.