Martin Luther King was more than a social justice or civil rights leader, his legacy underscores the continual work that remains ahead as we push forward in the 21st Century. He knew that laying the foundation for equality was just the beginning—the baton would need to be carried for future generations.

Here we are, and we’ve made strides, but also many of us will nod in agreement change needs to be ongoing. Justice needs to be a light and focus if we are to move on from any discrimination. This involves faith, religion, race, and gender. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrate his win over discrimination and sheer bravery. It was bravery without the use of hate, force, or violence.

 “I have a dream that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers,” he said.

And "Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a bridge to other races and religions—interfaith peace was important in making changes. Let’s echo this power to influence the world. He encouraged America to inspire, and work towards moral principles.

Be it Jew, Gentile, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheists-- all people were created equal. He said hate only divides us. Tolerance does not work to understand, it is putting up with another, where no healing can take place. All races in the world don’t need to agree, but as humans we can love. Religion is instrumental in this role, he believed.

What is religion and what beats at the center?

Love, King believed. Love would be at the heart of peace no matter what religion was followed. This flowed into an economic bill of rights that King’s civil rights group created. It outlined that all citizens have the right to access education work, health care, minimum income and adequate housing.

The Bill of Economic and Social Rights can be found on The King Center. On page two it reads:

 “..so we do not come here to ask for charity. We demand justice. It took America nearly two centuries to begin to understand that all men are not created equal, as long as Negros are denied to the right to vote, access to public accommodations and federal equality before the law…”

There is a link between all of us, King shared. We are all brothers and sisters. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Simply, putting down hate and finding common ground with each other sounds simple, but in a climate of strife—can we ever find the peace that King dreamt about?

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad