Truly, I was too young to remember him vividly but somehow I do. I remember sitting with white children in my military base school and then attending schools that were only attended by black children in my parent’s hometown. I remember my mom and me having to sit in the back of an empty bus and having to stand up if a white person got on the bus annd there were no more seats. I remember certain department stores where were not welcome. I remember having to stand in the line at certain restaurants. I remember my father, then a soldier, being handed a roll of toilet paper and being pointed toward the woods. I remember Dr. King going to jail. I remember the water hoses being turned on black people. I remember the bombing of the church in Alabama killing the little girls. I remember black men being lynched for supposedly looking at white women. I remember the water fountains that I could not drink from. Or maybe, I just remember the news and the stories told by my parents. I remember the sorrow and loss felt on the day he died. I remember Dr. King.
Dr. King's enduring legacy is the importance of service in the cause of justice, equality, and freedom. At the height of the U.S. civil rights movement, Dr. King rallied our Nation to live up to the promise of full equality under the law, without regard to race, color, or creed. On Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we encourage people around the world to pause and consider the lasting impact of Dr. King's ideals and their continuing relevance today. Take a moment remember this man’s legacy through his words:
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
- “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
- “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
- “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
- “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- “I have a dream 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.”
- “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
- “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
- “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
Dr. King elevated the conversation beyond race, or gender, or even history to humanity. There was no hatred or race-baiting in his words. His call for service to our fellow men has evolved into our National Day of Service. From rebuilding houses destroyed in Hurricane Sandy to cleaning schools, Americans all across the country volunteered at churches, food banks and community centers across the U.S. Saturday to celebrate this holiday.