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There’s more work to be done

Posted: January 24, 2012 12:02 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Recently I was blessed to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the beautiful ground of our National Mall. McKissack and McKissack’s Lisa Anders, the senior project manager for the Memorial construction, gave a background on elements of the memorial. Ms. Anders had overall responsibility for management of the contraction. She said the $121 million memorial used varied treatment and textures of water and stone in creating a sense of the diversity of the civil rights movements. It was a singular distinction for an African-American woman.

I noticed some 14 quotes from King used across a circular stone wall that surrounds the 30-foot statue of King which the Thomas Jefferson Memorial faces. As the group toured the memorial, members took turns touching quotes etched on the wall. During the course of the tour, I noted that the other memorials on the mall are dedicated to U.S. Presidents and wars in which Americans fought. The King memorial is the only one dedicated to peace. King’s words appeared to be calling for the day when race or, more accurately, “color,” would not be the sole criterion to determine the worth of an individual. Rather, King dreamed of the day when men and women of good character, regardless of color, would be judged worthy.

My study of King and his writing strongly suggest he would say one cannot judge, if one is to judge, the content of character without looking to the sources of that content. The Negro must forever conduct our struggle on a high plan of dignity and discipline. Resist the temptation to respond negatively and instead embrace hope and realize their “some bodyness,” King wrote.

In his essay, “The Dilemma of Negro American,” published the year before his assassination, King wrote the residue of slavery and post emancipation oppression has wreaked on blacks in the United States.

In the context of his remarkable speech (I Had a Dream) that I was blessed to witness first hand, King would condone the devaluation of the miserable who through generations of deprivation lack the brilliance of spirit too many of use assume we have.

I am truly convinced that if Martin Luther Jr. had lived, we would be a healthier nation and we would have more than King’s dream to direct us.

In my sunset years of life I do occasionally reminiscent and meditate about King’s dream. I truly believe the full intent of his dream has never been understood.

God had given to every man the right to be “a free moral agent.” He who robs his fellow man of this tramples upon rights, subverts justice, unsettles the foundation of human safety and sacrilegiously assumes the prerogative of God. 

Together, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evans and Viola Luzzo (assassinated) and the others led the effort to overcome a system of legal oppression that had endured in one form or another from the beginning of the nation. That is achievement enough for their generations. The effort to win greater responsibility, and economic opportunity, remains for ours.

Kershaw County, a place in which I have unconditional love, is truly a better place for everyone to live, work, worship, and learn in because of King’s life and unselfish service to others. Yes, “more work needs to be done.”

 

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