Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

My own personal Dr. King

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments
of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of
challenge and controversy."

-- The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, Monday January 16th, is the third Monday of January, and as such is observed in the United States as a federal holiday celebrating the birth and all-too-short life of a man whose dream was of unity, not dissent. Of cooperation, not discrimination.

Some of us in the U.S. have a day off from work or school, but on this 20th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, organizers remind us to consider it "A Day On, not a Day Off."

"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking
from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our
struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline."

-- Dr. King

I don't have Monday off, but I do plan to spend some time reflecting on Dr. King's words and works, on the legacy of Rosa Parks, who passed away last fall, and on the life of Diann Sams, a local civil rights hero who was present for the dedication of the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama last fall just a few days before she, too, passed away.

Nearly all of us are too young to remember Dr. King directly; he died when I was a toddler. Mrs. Parks was as much of an abstraction for many of us, since even though she lived until recently, she has been largely out of the limelight. But Diann is someone I knew, and someone whose energy and drive I can remember clearly, from my own personal experience. By thinking about her along with these two more famous civil rights leaders, I think I can get a better feel for their energy and their drive.

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