On Jan. 17, our nation will pause to celebrate and honor the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of our most admired leaders whose vision, strength and courage helped bring about historic change to our country.
Born 82 years ago, Dr. King showed a nation that nonviolence can bring about social justice. From the Montgomery bus boycott to the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to his arrest and incarceration in the Birmingham jail, Dr. King never wavered in his determination that all people be treated equally and fairly.
As we celebrate his life, we need to remember his call to action in the struggle for civil rights. He once said: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” We are a diverse nation in which 1 out 3 Americans is a member of a minority group. Today, we celebrate that diversity and recognize it as one of our nation’s greatest strengths.
This year, on Aug. 28 – the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s landmark speech at the Lincoln Memorial – we will dedicate a new memorial to him on the National Mall along the Tidal Basin and near the Lincoln Memorial.
In dedicating the memorial to Dr. King, we will be helping to ensure that future generations will come to know and appreciate his legacy of justice and equality for all people. Dr. King wrote from the Birmingham Jail that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. King understood that we are all connected as brothers and sisters and that we must find a way to live together, or as he said, “Perish together as fools.” As we celebrate his life and legacy, we join together in giving thanks for the inspiration and guidance he has given our nation.