Jan. 17, 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the official Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. On Jan. 15, Dr. King would have been 82 years old. Today, the life and legacy of Dr. King represents to us the undying hope of a nation living its noblest principles, where people from all walks of life live in peace and dignity, consistent with his concept of “The Beloved Community.”
Dr. King was a man who inspired a wounded nation with purposeful determination. By walking in faith, he walked in greatness and led a broken nation closer to healing. During this time of remembrance, we can honor his legacy and celebrate the day in service to others and to our community.
Dr. King affirmed the ultimate goal inherent in the quest for “The Beloved Community”: “I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think that end or that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community.” It is said that ‘we are our brother’s keeper,’ we all have a vested interest in the success of the people around us and in the success of our community.
Dr. King stated in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, explaining why his presence was in Birmingham: “…I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly, for better or worse is a fact of our lives. It is evident when we endeavor to teach our children to love and respect one another or when we lend a helping hand bring up someone who has been roughed up a little by life and is struggling to right himself again. It is evident in the ethereal glow of people who go beyond what is expected and step outside of themselves to help the least among us. As we heal our families, we heal our neighborhoods. As we heal our neighborhoods, we heal our community. As we extend our hand in friendship and fellowship, we learn that the greatness of Dr. King is in all of us.
MLK Day is a day of celebration, a day of sharing and cooperation among all people. This holiday is not a Black holiday as Coretta Scott Kings said; it is a peoples’ holiday. It is a day that inspires and calls people to service. Organizations around metropolitan Detroit will hold tributes and special events to recognize the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be special programs on television and radio. So while we take the day to honor the man, take the time to look around your community. What can you do to make things better? The quest for “The Beloved Community” can be a way of life in our personal relationships, as well as a method for resolving social, economic and political conflicts, reconciling adversaries and advancing social change in your community, nation and world. With your help and God’s blessing, let us resolve to make “The Beloved Community” a glowing reality in the 21st Century.