Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Today, as I watched the news – a reporter was interviewing a teenage girl about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he meant to her-  I was lucky enough to hear her answer, which said that  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man who understood the importance of improving himself and  that the color of the skin did not have anything to do with a person’s character.

The pages of our history books are filled with men and women whose actions have impacted the course of our nation.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of these figures.  Forty-Two years after his death, Americans, regardless of race, are still benefiting from the effects of his passionate campaign.

As we remember his life today, there are several valuable lessons we can learn.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the importance of improving himself.  He was an excellent student, graduating from high school and entering Morehouse College at the age of 15 where he received his Bachelor’s Degree.  He continued his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary, graduating with honors.  Finally, he earned a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Boston University.  Ironically, some of his worst marks at Crozer were 2 courses on public speaking.  Those professors must feel a little like the junior varsity basketball coach that cut Michael Jordan from the school team.  Leaders use setbacks to motivate themselves to improve.  There is always room for improvement.  We need to follow his example and look for ways to better ourselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an involved citizen.  He found a cause and became an advocate for that cause.  He saw the injustice of racism in the South and looked for ways to make changes.  He got others involved, using both white and black sympathizers in the North to help fan the fires of change.  He knew the risks, yet stayed true to his convictions.  Today, there is still a desperate need for doers.  We need public servants and people to look around and see things that need to change, and then make a commitment to change them.

Finally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an eternal optimist.   In 1963, while sitting in a Birmingham jail cell, he penned these powerful words of hope:  ” Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brother hood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

Later that year, he organized a peaceful protest in Washington, D.C. for jobs and civil rights.  That is when he delivered his well-known and moving speeches in American history:

” I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’  … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Exactly what the young teenager spoke this morning.

Because of this dream, America is a better place today.  There is still more progress to be made.

I can think of no better memorial than to carry forward his message of unity, and love for our fellow man to our children.

Thank you and God Bless America,

Sandy Murman

County Commissioner, District 1