This Monday, January 18th, marks the 35th anniversary of the federal holiday in honor of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Signed into law in 1983 and first observed in 1986, the holiday is a deserving tribute to Dr. King for advancing civil rights and social justice through non-violent protest.
In these times of turmoil in our country, I wanted to re-read the letter Dr. King wrote while detained in a Birmingham, Alabama jail. He was arrested for participating in non-violent protests against the racial injustice experienced in that city for years.
The letter is just as relevant today as it was then. You can read it here: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
One passage in particular stands out to me. Reflecting on the thoughts of a “moderate” white supporter that Dr. King may be in too much of a hurry to achieve equal rights for Black people, Dr. King discusses time and the silence of those who would be allies:
“Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively.
More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. ..
We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
On Monday, as we honor Dr. King, let’s remember all of the things he stands for. Let’s remember what he called on all of us and our country to be.
I will do this on Monday, and every day, by trying my best to use my time constructively, effectively and definitely not silently!
With love and light,