Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King’

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., and on heroism

January 15, 2012

 

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s been a holiday in all fifty states only since 2000, when Utah finally adopted it. MLK was a hero, and the holiday dedicated to him is a good time to reflect on his life and on the meaning—and especially the limits—of being a hero.

If we venerate some of our Presidents for their accomplishments, then we surely should venerate King. He arguably did more to make America a better nation than anyone since Lincoln. He dreamt 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.”

America is not that nation yet—not quite—but we’ve progressed awfully close to it since King’s 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial. And the progress has been largely inspired by King. His insistence on non-violence sealed the commitment of African-Americans to it, and his description of what justice meant captured the conscience and then the heart of much of white America.

Yet when his birthday was first proposed as a national holiday in 1979—just eleven years after his death—it was so controversial that it failed to win a majority vote in the House of Representatives, and it took another twenty-one years for the fiftieth state to recognize it. Many reasons have been cited for the resistance, but surely a major reason (more…)

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Alabama’s governor of all the people, as long as “you’re a Christian and if you’re saved”— no insult intended to Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, and others

January 18, 2011

 

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley gave a rousing Martin Luther King, Jr day speech at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the late civil rights leader once was pastor. He told Alabamians that it was important ”that we love and care for each other.” He went on to proclaim, ”I think that Dr. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest men that has ever lived.”

Bentley said that even though he was a Republican he was governor of all the people. Except…maybe…

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

 

”Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Bentley later explained, ”We’re not trying to insult anybody.” Not trying, but succeeding.