MLK Racial Justice

Passers-by walk near the 20-foot-high bronze sculpture "The Embrace," a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in the Boston Common, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Boston. The sculpture, consisting of four intertwined arms, was inspired by a photo of the Kings embracing when MLK learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The statue is to be unveiled during ceremonies Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.

Our country owes gargantuan thanks for the actions, words, leadership, selflessness and deadly bravery of The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a radical leader murdered for defending freedom. Today we celebrate the life and legacy of King with a national and state holiday. For all who are free, it deserves no less reverence than the Fourth of July.

King's holiday falls each year on National Religious Freedom Day, inspired by Thomas Jefferson. Without protection of religious liberty, as ensured by the First Amendment and 14th Amendments, King could not have forged codification of his religious morality in state, federal and local laws.

King took his inspiration from another fearless religious radical — Jesus. A middle eastern Jew and likely a long-haired "person of color" by modern American lingo, Christians consider Jesus the son of God. Others of faith respect him as a rabbi, teacher and/or prophet.

Our country has made great strides toward civil rights because of King’s life and sacrifice. Largely by King's inspiration, we passed a federal civil rights act and hundreds of local and state laws intended to dissuade hatred and prejudice. We have done so as much of the world embraces chattel slavery rooted in racism and religion intolerance.

Yet, we have a long way to go. Sadly, an aberrant domestic movement of pseudo academia and pundit propaganda seeks to divide Americans by racial, religious and ethnic identity — with fake adornments of social justice and civil rights.

Schools increasingly teach "children of color" they are different, disadvantaged and helplessly oppressed. This ideology tells our youths to live by excuse, forfeiture, anger and envy — not by unconditional love, confidence, hope and the high rewards of personal pursuits. The National Education Association openly encourages this messaging, best known as Critical Race Theory — a sullied brand poorly disguised by other misleading phrases and words.

What passes as today’s civil rights movement mostly contradicts King's dream that children would “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

We know of no one alive with King’s masterful ability to express the principles of civil rights — a concept he learned researching his faith. So, we’ll go with the great reverend's words of wisdom on this day that honors him:

• "The early Christians who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word... Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests. Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ."

• “Was not Jesus an extremist for love? ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...' Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel? 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ "

• "When we see social relationships controlled everywhere by the principles which Jesus illustrated in life — trust, love, mercy, and altruism — then we shall know that the kingdom of God is here."

• "I felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on."

• "Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, 'Love your enemies.' It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals."

• "We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule."

• "When Jesus says 'Love your enemies,' he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition."

• "In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified.... All three were crucified for the same crime — the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.""

By living a risky, radical and difficult life — a life of moral extremism — King promoted peace and justice for people of every faith and background. He paid the ultimate price. God help us if we forget, abandon, controvert or distort his message of unity and love without regard for one's immutable traits. King hoped, prayed and believed we would improve.

“The empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing," King implored.

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