By Sudarshan Kapoor
(Editor’s note: The following comments were delivered by Dr. Su Kapoor at MLK events in mid-January.)
Jan. 18 was a federal holiday in honor of Dr. King’s 92nd birthday, which was observed across the nation and abroad. It is a holiday to some but a holy day to others.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of this legendary and iconic figure of our times and in the history of this nation. Dr. King is a revered leader who has inspired millions.
Dr. King was a drum major for justice and righteousness. He was an uncompromising champion of human rights and nonviolence, which is a far superior method of conflict resolution and achieving social justice.
He was a dreamer who gave the “I have a dream speech”—one of the most well-known and famous speeches in history—but he was also a great doer. His activism and nonviolent protests became a triumph of courage and love. His words sparked a nonviolent revolution that changed the course of history in this nation.
His life informs us and enlightens us.
His dream sustains us and nurtures us.
His words inspire us and empower us.
His struggle energizes us and strengthens us.
His cause endures and his dream lives on.
Dr. King would say it eloquently today, my dear fellow human beings:
It is a time for healing, not for polarizing.
It is a time for compassion and forgiveness, not for revenge or retribution.
It is a time for understanding, not for provocation.
It is a time for civility and unity, not for discord or disruption.
It is a time for redemption and restoration, not for condemnation and dehumanization.
It is a time to serve those who are in need and who are poor and who are suffering under the present circumstances.
On Dr. King’s birthday, let us commit ourselves to nonviolence and nonviolent protests. Dr. King gave us a blueprint to carry on the fights and struggles for justice, equality and human rights for all.
Let us be the beacon of light. Let us set aside our petty differences for the better good of all. Let us work together to realize the dream of Dr. King in creating the beloved community and symphony of brotherhood.
Let us remember that we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
Let us not judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Let us remember that darkness cannot be driven out by darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot be driven out by hatred; only love can do that.
Dr. King’s message of justice, peace, racial brotherhood and human dignity is timeless. It is relevant today. It is relevant tomorrow and will remain relevant the day after.
Sudarshan Kapoor, Ph.D., is professor emeritus, founder and former director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and professor of social work and community development at Fresno State. Dr. Kapoor is the former co-executive editor of Peace & Change, published by the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and the chair of the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.