“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Though it’s been nearly 52 years since an assassin’s bullet silenced Martin Luther King Jr., his words and legacy continue to offer us guidance. The challenge for us is to heed his wisdom.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929. Today, the third Monday of January, we commemorate what would have been King’s 91st birthday with a national holiday. It’s a time when many will take on community service projects, engage in calls for improved race relations and attend special church services to lift up prayers for a better world.

It may be unlike any other holiday during the year.

That’s likely what President Ronald Reagan had in mind in 1983 when he declared the third Monday of January Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday was first observed three years later, though it wasn’t until 2000, when South Carolina joined in, that it was observed in all 50 states.

“Each year on Martin Luther King Day,” Reagan said at the bill signing, “let us not only recall Dr, King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day: Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. And I just have to believe that all of us — if all of us, young and old, Republicans and Democrats, do all we can to live up to those Commandments, then we will see the day when Dr. King’s dream comes true ...”

Reagan’s words spoke specifically that day to King’s fight to improve race relations and equality. The strides made since the early 1960s in civil liberties for minorities have been significant — though, decades later, we still have work to do. This message should be a central part to today’s special events and remembrances.

Reagan also said King “symbolized what was right about America, what was noblest and best, what human beings have pursued since the beginning of history. He loved unconditionally. He was in constant pursuit of truth, and when he discovered it, he embraced it.”

King often spoke about the need to work together to solve our country’s problems. That’s what he meant in his aforementioned about being in the same boat. As we look at a nation that’s often divided over immigration, impeachment and intolerance, King’s message resonates in its call to be even better toward each other.

So it’s fitting that this holiday is more than just a day off from work (for some). Most celebrations surrounding King’s day are in forms of service projects. Across the country, people will mark the holiday by cleaning up communities, helping the homeless, or doing home repairs for the elderly. In one service project here in Frederick, for instance, several groups will be volunteering their time to create hats for critically ill children.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” King once said.

If we’re able to embrace any of King’s multitude of timeless advice, it’s that our best times as a society come when we’re able to work together to find solutions.

Amen to that.

(9) comments

Lev928

MLK's words are dated and irrelevant to modern society, government and law. Anyone claiming otherwise lacks personal accountability and responsibility for both themselves and others.

seanjames

they're more relevant now than they even were then

petersamuel

A great American. Not without flaws, but rightfully up there in a pantheon of the Greats. No person living today can match his eloquence, his aptitude for the inspiring and memorable phrase.

public-redux

[thumbup]

public-redux

“ FWIW, I disagree with his critics.”

Not sure why that is so hard to understand.

jsklinelga

Amen to that. A remarkable man. A remarkable Christian. Inspirational. A true child of God that fought a remarkable fight against the horrible injustice of slavery and the lingering injustice of racial prejudice.

Years ago,like many. I knew the main excerpts of his "I have a dream speech" by heart. He is best known for his fight against racial injustice. But years later it is also his Christianity that inspires many. His last speech/sermon "I have been to that mountaintop" is a true testament by a child of God of a race well run and its final reward. A remarkable servant.

Comment deleted.
jsklinelga

Alice Jones

My words are irrelevant. I listened to Rev. King's "I have been to the mountain top" speech this morning. 49 minutes on youtube. Gives a great insight into his work and faith.

rpkrauss

Jsk, thank you for reminding me that what we share in common is much greater and of more importance than the little things we squabble over.

public-redux

RE: MLK’s Christianity

It is well accepted in the confessional strand of Christianity that King denied the divinity of Jesus and thus wasn’t Christian in any meaningful sense. For example, consider this excerpt from his essay on “The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus”:

The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadaquate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: “Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possible have.” In other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied. The true significance of the divinity of Christ lies in the fact that his achievement is prophetic and promissory for every other true son of man who is willing to submit his will to the will and spirit of God. Christ was to be only the prototype of one among many brothers.

FWIW, I disagree with his critics.

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