Although today isn’t really Martin King Jr.’s birthday (it was January 15,) a federal holiday in his honor is observed on the 3rd Monday of January, each year. I’ll take that as my cue to write a few words about his formidable legacy.
In a nation with a history full of consequential men and women, it’s difficult for me to come up with a man more consequential. You may disagree with this assessment. And that’s fair. We all have our heroes. Yet, if you’ve read this blog with any regularity you probably know that I regard our ability to feel empathy and compassion as our most advanced evolutionary traits. If that’s indeed the case, MLK embodies, and expresses, those characteristics better than almost any other human I’ve ever come across.
If you need to know more about King, here are three whole pages of eBooks about him. Beyond the historic I Have a Dream speech and famous quotes like “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King was a brilliant philosopher. So, here’s a whole page of some of his lesser known quotes as well. Do spend a few minutes reflecting on their significance. If not today…when?
It may be a bit jarring to some, but I chose an arrest photo of MLK for this piece, not only because I’m in awe of the combination of steely resolve and serenity in Dr. King’s gaze, but also because I’m always amazed at the way some of our most significant visionaries are treated. Often for arbitrary reasons like skin pigmentation. If there’s a lesson to be learned from it, it’s that no step in social evolution is ever taken without resistance from those who benefit from the status quo, and without the potential for risk and heavy personal cost.
King may be gone but he still lives through the sheer force of his words and the clarity of his ethics.
Happy MLK day!