In honor of Black History Month, our family returned to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. As I stood there in front of Dr. King's words, I marveled at how important those words were back then, and how desperately we need them today. As other visitors lingered in front of Dr. King's words, I heard them say, "We need this man now."
At the beginning of the year my husband Ritter and I decided to read a book a month together. As we made a list for the year, we included Congressman John Lewis' March, and decided to read it in February. It has been such a privilege to read and see John Lewis' story from childhood, to his incredible work and sacrifice as a civil rights activist, to the moment he is able to see President Obama become inaugurated. I was humbled as I was reminded that many people who participated in the Jim Crow era are still here with us, and yet we have just had eight years with President Barak Obama. So many things have changed, yet there is still so much injustice. Jim Crow has been eliminated, but replaced with our horrific prison systems.
This week has brought another week of political controversy - a lot of activism, but not a lot of hope. I opposed Betsy Devos' nomination in front of the Capitol building, and saw 20 senators feet from me, as they spoke of their hopes of "one more vote." It didn't matter. Millions saw Senator Elizabeth Warren read Coretta Scott King's letter to the 1986 Senate, but this time it was not on the Senate floor. Warren read it outside of the Senate, in front of some dimly lit doors.
But there was some news of hope. All of President Trump's nominees may be sworn in, but the people continue to march. Coretta Scott King's words have been heard millions of times on our phones, and our televisions. The courts spoke out against discrimination, and the travel ban is still banned. My children run around with so much freedom - a freedom that those who came before them fought for. I am so thankful and humbled by their sacrifice.
MKL quotes at the memorial:
"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C., August 28, 1963.
"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Washington Natioal Cathedral, March 31, 1968.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Strength to Love, 1963.
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964.
"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
March for Integrated Schools, April 18, 1959.
"I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world."
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 26, 1967.
"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."
Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963.
"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964
"It is not enough to say 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace."
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 25, 1967.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Strength to Love, 1963.
"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies."
New York City, April 4, 1967.
"We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs 'down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"
Montgomery, Alabama, December 5, 1955.
"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience."
Montgomery, Alabama, March 25, 1965.
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."
Stride Toward Freedom, 1958