If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be 84. Tuesday, January 15 is the actual birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr. although we will celebrate the federal holiday on Monday, January 21. As we honor his legacy, let us remember what he stood for. His principles are just as relevant today as they were 84 years ago. He stood for justice everywhere and spoke out against injustice everywhere. If he were alive today, he would speak on civil rights, voting rights, gun violence, support of unions, health care reform, the Dream Act, against the Afghanistan war, on jobs and the economy and civility in our political process, to name a few.
Some of the civil rights that Dr. King fought and died for are continually being tested as seen in our last election with the GOP’s attempts to disenfranchise minorities through bogus so-called voter ID laws. Permanent disenfranchisement of those who have paid their dues to society through prison terms is a permanent denial of voting rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The pipeline of school to prison would be of paramount concern to Dr. King, where many young African American males are going form school to prison.
Below are some of the issues that I believe Dr. King would support or oppose based on his previous teachings, writings and speeches.
Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 while trying to support and help organize sanitation workers in that city. The current attempts to dismantle bargaining rights for workers, particularly public employees would be a major concern to Dr. King, if he were alive today. And I believe he would have stood in solidarity with the union workers in Wisconsin and other parts of the country where their collective bargaining powers are being diluted by Republican lawmakers.
Health Care Reform
Martin Luther King would unequivocally support universal health care reform. He knew that “injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere”. Denying access to health care for over 31 million uninsured Americans, those with pre-existing conditions, victims of domestic abuse, and young adults is an injustice. And he would applaud President Obama’s stance taken in passing the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. King would in all probability support the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam War. In 1967, he spoke against the cost of war and the effect of the war on our country. His words are just as relevant today to the Afghan war. He said. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”. He knew that war cost a double price both here and abroad. His words against the Vietnam War could easily be interposed with the word Afghan. In speaking out against the Vietnam War, he said:
“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted.
I believe Dr. King would support the Dream Act allowing for young children brought to this country illegally to have an opportunity for legal status upon entering college or joining the military. I don’t believe he would be concerned about illegal immigrants taking jobs away from American citizens and particularly African Americans. He would know that our issues with illegal immigrants would be based on fear and hate. Dr. King would say today:
“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated”.
As Dr. King would celebrate his 84th birthday, he would be delighted to meet with the 82nd Attorney General, Eric Holder, as the first African American Attorney General. He would probably be in meetings with President Barack Obama, the first African American president. He would believe that both President Obama and Eric Holder are a fulfillment of his dream but not the fulfillment of his dream.
He would be extremely troubled at the lack of civility in the political process and the warring of words in the media among our government officials spewing hate and racism.
Dr. King was a dreamer. And many of his dreams came true against all odds. So, I believe that Dr. King would still be optimistic about our country’s future. He would never think our glory days are behind us. He would still believe that we as a people would reach the Promised Land. And he would say from what he endured in his life time that despite gun violence and mass killings, high unemployment, high foreclosure rates, high incarceration of black males and government deadlock and dysfunction, we will overcome.
And he would truly say to America…Keep the Faith.