Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and like we do every year in honor of Dr. King’s memory, I’m posting an excerpt from his Letter From Birmingham Jail.
In these passages, Dr. King is looking forward to an age when his native region of the United States (the South) celebrates and honors the work of the civil rights movement, rather than subjecting it to violence and scorn.
Nearly fifty-six years have elapsed since these words were written. Sadly, racism and injustice remain a painful reality for many people in this country.
Nevertheless, the struggle for greater freedom and equality continues.
Here’s Dr. King. (Note that typos are contained in the original manuscript.)
One day the South will recognize its real heroes.
They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.
They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness:
“My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.”
They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Take a few minutes today to read the whole thing.