This Sunday, Jan. 15, would have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday. We are sure the slain civil rights leader, who was assassinated in 1968, would opine about national and world affairs with a grace and elegance rarely heard in today’s world of five-second soundbites.
Instead, we are left to ponder the existential “what if’s” of his too-short life, the biggest being, “What if he hadn’t been killed in Memphis that early April morning in 1968?”
Sadly, like tears lost in the rain, we will never really know the answer. All we can do is offer theory and conjecture, based on what we know of the man’s principles.
It’s that knowledge base — of the many accolades Dr. King achieved in his 39 years on this planet — which many in the community and country will discuss and analyze on Monday, Jan. 16, when the nation remembers him and his achievements. This year marks the 31st official Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance. It has, like numerous other federal holidays, become part of our national fabric.
However, we are also reminded that the nation waited until years after his death to give him and his work in the civil rights movement the recognition they deserved. It wasn’t until some 32 years after his passing that all 50 states observed the civil rights leader’s birthday on the third Monday of January.
This Monday, we should reflect on what Dr. King’s compelling message meant — and still means — to this nation. The United States still struggles with inequalities, often rooted in prejudice, hostilities and fear. Some argue things have progressed negatively in recent years, and at times it is difficult to argue this perspective. Regardless, this holiday reminds us how far we’ve come, while at the same time challenging us to push ourselves to keep fighting for what’s right and just.
Several local organizations will come together Monday to recall the legacy of the slain civil rights leader. Among them:
• Caribbean-Americans for Community Involvement (CAFCI) and the Village of Royal Palm Beach will present their 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, taking place Monday, Jan. 16 at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. A light continental breakfast is available from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., prior to the celebration, which will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. This year’s theme is “Love is the most durable power in the world.”
• The 36th annual Scholarship & Awards Breakfast presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee of West Palm Beach will take place at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Monday, Jan. 16 starting at 7:30 a.m. Tickets are $45 for adults and $25 for youths. For additional information, call (561) 832-4682 or visit www.mlkcc-1444.org.
• Palm Beach Atlantic University’s tradition of honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service continues with volunteer opportunities at a number of locations through its annual program. Volunteer check-in begins 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16 in the Rubin Arena in the Greene Complex on Palm Beach Atlantic’s main campus (1100 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach). Kickoff begins at 8 a.m., and a sack breakfast will be provided. For additional information, contact Kate Magro at (561) 803-2580.
In 1960, Dr. King famously stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Therefore, no American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door.”
We have a dream that someday, this will no longer be an issue.