Even before this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day was on the horizon, his name was mentioned often in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Though the Newtown, Conn., tragedy should have been a moment that brought the nation together, it has mostly become a heated war of words regarding gun control. So as people throughout the country celebrate King’s legacy this Monday, we hope they take the time to think deeply about King’s message of peace and how it can be carried forward today. Though the national observance of his legacy lasts only one day, the message is something that should resonate all year long.
King lived in a different time, within a very different cultural climate. But the challenges he faced were rooted in the same fears and hostilities that divide Americans today. Perhaps the difference is that today there is no national uniting figure like King, who exists beyond politics and corporate interests. Maybe if there were a national figure both sides will listen to and trust, there could actually be a conversation.
Many people looked to President Obama to fill such a role. However, that’s just not possible in today’s political climate. Even if Obama devised a foolproof plan to make America safe and protect the rights of all gun owners, by default he is associated with one side of the issue, and many of his opponents simply don’t want to trust him. That is why a King-like figure from outside the realm of today’s politics could really help get everyone on the same page.
King’s immediate goal was equal rights for all, but it was part of a larger vision he had for the future. His vision was broad and all-inclusive. Though he was a leading figure in the civil rights movement, he wasn’t fighting for a just single cause. He wanted to see a future in which everyone could coexist peacefully. For every step he took toward achieving that goal, he never lost focus of what he was ultimately fighting for.
This coming Monday, Jan. 21, Caribbean-Americans for Community Involvement (CAFCI) and the Village of Royal Palm Beach will present the 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. (See story on 3.) The program runs from 10 a.m. to noon, with continental breakfast from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. Call CAFCI’s Elet Cyris at (561) 791-9087 for more information.
In the meantime, we recommend taking some time to read up on King’s legacy. Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service web site at www.mlkday.gov to learn about King as well as ways in which you can carry on his words and deeds in your own community.