On Monday, America will again reflect on one of its most influential sons — the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
And on the federal holiday observing King’s birthday, his Bible will be used, along with one that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln, as President Barack Obama takes his public oath of office to open his second term in the White House.
When you think about it, that is quite a remarkable achievement. Here was a man who led a revolution of American society, a man who spent time in jail because of his work and belief that fairness should be the right of every American regardless of skin color, a man whose life was cut short by an assassin. Now, nearly 45 years after his death, the hand of the nation’s president will rest upon King’s Bible as he takes the oath to serve in America’s highest elected office.
Many Americans will honor King’s memory today by performing some form of community service. Just under two decades ago, a movement began to make that a component of observing the birthday of King. In the ensuing years, it has grown so that estimates are that more than 13,000 service projects are performed collectively by more than 1 million Americans each year.
And while far too many people express their opinions of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would think about this issue or that were he alive today, we believe we are safe in assuming that King would be pleased that community service had become such a large part of his annual celebration.
There will also be events conducted in King’s memory. Here, there will be at least two observances of note on Monday: the 33rd annual breakfast at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the evening King Day 2013 celebration at the Albany Civic Center.
Monday’s federal holiday — the only one observed by the United States for an individual who didn’t serve as president — brings King’s statesmanship and legacy into sharp focus. But the influence that this man had on his nation is something that we should keep in mind the year round.
Many people are still too quick to make judgments based on how someone is different from them, but a great deal of progress has been made since the days when King led marches and made moving speeches, including his iconic “Dream” speech. It’s important that we continue to strive for a future where all citizens get a fair deal regardless of race, sex, age or any other defining characteristic that is used to detract from the fact that we are all Americans.
That is a dream worthy of pursuit.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board