“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states… 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.”
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, 1963
Yesterday, we remembered a young, courageous man who fought with conviction for equality. We celebrated a great writer and orator who was able to so eloquently pen the human struggle. Martin Luther King, Jr. deserves our recognition, for us to keep reading, and for us to remember. MLKJ spoke of oppression and injustice, but he also believed in the unity of human spirits, in goodness, and in hope. My heart was very full yesterday as we celebrated a man who accomplished so much, touched so many, and was taken too soon. The good fight isn’t over, but we are several steps closer because of this man.
In honor of his fight and spirit, I read excerpts from Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It’s hard not to be moved by his words, and it weighs even more heavily to think that this could be a letter written today. It has been over 50 years since he sat in that jail cell, and yet he describes the condition of so many in this country and around the world. In an era of progressive ideals, technological advances, and democratic principles, millions are still considered “less than.”
As a woman, I read Dr. King’s letter and hear my plight. And I am sure the same is true of other minorities, of whomever is discriminated against based on their human characteristics. How can we not feel that he is speaking on our behalf? We exist in an increasingly multicultural and globalized world, but privilege for the few is still pervasive. Women are still underrepresented, religions are still persecuted, and ethnicities are still marginalized in many countries. We have to fight for our rights to education, healthcare, employment, and representation. We find that our voices are unheard, our struggles are unrecognized, and our needs are unmet. Yesterday’s issues continue to plague the progress that today could hold.
So, what do we do? We continue to read. We continue to talk. We continue to challenge the status quo because in the end, the laws and societal standards that uphold it are what Dr. King would call “unjust”. We continue to celebrate great thinkers, innovators, demonstrators, and writers who bring issues to light and who take the great risk of speaking out. Our generation has the whole world at our fingers: with one tweet or one post, we can reach millions. We must harness this power and use it as a tool for advancing humanity. We cannot be the silent friends Dr. King references. We must join arms with our brothers and sisters in struggle and stand strong against oppression. We must not let ourselves suffer in silence.
This is my reflection from MLKJ Day 2014. Let us never forget to speak out, but let us also continually love and strive for peace, goodness, and unity. Dr. King’s legacy and his day of remembrance are a reminder of the work that has been done and what continues to be needed.
This post was originally published on 01/21/14 on our original blogsite Homegrown & Global