Honor The Dedication of The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Every Day

Martin Luther King Jr's Contributions To Society Benefit All People

When any person is oppressed, all are diminished.
When any person is oppressed, all are diminished. | Source

We shall always march ahead! We cannot turn back!

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was officially dedicated on Sunday, October 16, 2011. The ceremony was supposed to take place in August; however, a hurricane threatened and the event had to be postponed.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of being the American Sign Language interpreter at my church on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Our pastor delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech. If you think this speech is moving to listen to, try having it move through you as you examine each word and concept for the truest and deepest meaning to paint a picture for those who cannot hear it. If everyone in the world could celebrate the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in this way, the world would be a different place. It was a transforming experience.

You may be surprised to know that this was a white pastor in a mostly white church. His point was that Dr. King's words and the Civil Rights movement are not only important for African Americans. Although, at the time of the original speech (1963) the focus was surely on gaining equal rights for "Negros", Dr. King recognized at the time that the changes that were beginning would eventually affect everyone.

He said:

"Many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound with our freedom. We cannot walk alone, and as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends; although, we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream!

Title:Martin Luther King Jr. Attribution License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/ Photographer:dbking:everystockphoto.com
Title:Martin Luther King Jr. Attribution License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/ Photographer:dbking:everystockphoto.com

There are still problems. There is still separation. There is still isolation.

If you do nothing else to honor the dedication of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, be sure to sit down and truly listen to this stirring speech. I think you may be surprised to realize the injustices that existed in the United States at that time as compared with those that exist in the US today. The world has changed so much since 1963. I remember a little bit of that time. I was 6 years old then. I remember being absolutely baffled by all the violence I saw on the television that summer.

Although we had a large "negro" community in my town, I almost never saw any people of color. They stayed in their part of town. Schools were "separate, but equal". There were still places that had separate water fountains for blacks, and when the public pool was built a few years later, I remember hearing a lot of troubled discussion around the realization that black people would be allowed. It is astounding to me that things could have been so different such a relatively short time ago.

Today, a lot of Dr. King's dream has come true. We have our first president of color in office. People of all races hold a variety of offices throughout our nation. Segregation has greatly diminished. People of all colors feel free to befriend and love one another. And still, we must "march ahead". We must be aware of the needs of all of the people of the world today and take positive, measurable steps to meet them.

There are still problems. There is still separation. There is still isolation. And today, a lot of it does not have to do with race. Today, many Americans of every description find themselves "in exile in [our own] land". In today's fast paced, expensive, shrinking world, many people have become separate and isolated, regardless of race, creed or color. Many Americans face great trials and tribulations due to lack of jobs, income, and health insurance. Many lack even family and friends to lend them a helping hand.

Even now, as Dr. King’s Memorial is dedicated, thousand of people around the nation and the world march and protest corporate greed and the oppression of the many at the hands of the few. These people march forward to fulfill the dream of equality for all.

Dr. King said, "I have a dream today!"

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; 'and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'

"This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

"With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together..."

Dr. King's ultimate dream was a brotherhood of all people. While many can and do march and protest today for “every valley (to be) exalted, and every hill and mountain (to be) made low” many others do not or cannot, but there is something you can do to reach out and to honor Dr. King's Memorial. Get to know your neighbor. Help an individual or a family to hew a stone of hope from a mountain of despair. Break down the walls of isolation that have grown up between people of all colors, in all walks of life in our nation. The 99% can rise against oppression in our small towns and neighborhoods and stand together, but we have to know each other first!

Mother Theresa said, "Peace begins with a smile." To honor Dr. King's Memorial, to bring peace and brotherhood to the world, extend your hand to your neighbor. Do this regardless of race, creed or color - yours or your neighbors'. Honor Dr. King's Dream by moving forward in a personal way by building bridges between your heart and the hearts of those around you. Show some concern. Ask after the well-being of the people you encounter every day. Help when you see someone in need today and every day.

From every mountainside - and I would add, from every heart - let freedom ring.

"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city - and every heart - we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black ... and white ...Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics - old, young, rich and poor - will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

"Free at last! Free at last!

"Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


Copyright:SuzanneBennett:October 17, 2011



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Comments 9 comments

PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 4 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Truelly a great tribute to Doctor King, and never more needed with the civil unrest and protests of today. May all hear his words and take heed,

Peter


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks Peter! Did you watch the videos? I hoped to show how universally his words apply.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

He truly was a remarkable man. I wrote a paper on him when I was 7 and won a contest because I wrote from my heart why I thought he was super :) I STILL feel the same way today. I told my kids this evening that we are taking a trip to see the memorial this spring. Im lucky enough to live just a few hours away and I cant wait!!!!!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas Author

That's great! Thank you, Ardie! Did you watch the video of the little boy giving the report? It's so cute! :D


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

I just watched it, SO funny! I loved the part about MLK Jr using his notecards, he held them up lol!! I love that little boy :)


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas Author

Yes, and he is so enthusiastic! He clearly admires Dr. King a great deal! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

This is a wonderful tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King and although some progress has been made, there is surely more to accomplish...and as you said in many ways...not just for people of color. Discrimination rears its ugly head in many ways. The world would surely be a better place with more Dr. Kings and Mother Teresa's in it. Up, useful, beautiful, sharing and tweeting.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Yes indeed! Many thanks! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hopefully some day we will get there!

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