Today we pause and honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a giant of American history and a marvelous example in Christian history. He would have been 92 years old this year, but instead, we look back at his death 52 years ago. His dream that all people would be seen not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character lives today in our country and across the world.
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. can become a question of dueling legacies, as these articles show. It’s important though that we remember to step back from our partisan moment and remember the profoundly true and just vision Martin Luther King Jr. had for the country. For this reason, I decided several years ago to read his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on MLK weekend each year. It’s a reminder of the Christian vision that motivated him, the connection between the forgiveness found in Christ and the forgiveness we must give each other, and the eternal hope we have that God will make all things just in his kingdom.
Here are a few helpful tributes to remember and honor Dr. King on MLK Day.
“An Annotated Guide to Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail” - Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition
“My Father, Martin Luther King Jr., Had Another Dream” - Martin Luther King III, The New York Times
King’s son looks back on his father’s legacy and the enduring struggle for justice and freedom in the United States. He discusses income inequality, education, and universal basic income.
“How the Left Hijacked the Civil Rights Movement” - Robert L. Woodson and Joshua Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal
Today we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “King paid a heavy personal price for his hope that America was redeemable. Twice his home was bombed; once, his wife and daughter were nearly killed. Surrounded by hundreds of angry, armed black men after that bombing, he discouraged retaliatory violence. He was assaulted several times, and jailed as well, but he remained steadfast in his commitment to nonviolence. He united black Americans behind the proposition that racism is evil in itself, not simply because white people visited it upon blacks, and that all must unite to combat evil.” Here’s a fascinating look at MLK and the way his legacy has been appropriated through the last 50 years and how many measures on the left contradict the principles Dr. King fought for.
“It’s Not Enough to Preach Against Racism. We Need to Champion Policy Change” - Esau McCaulley, Christianity Today
While he’s become tremendously respected today, and rightfully so, MLK was not nearly so popular in his lifetime. McCaulley reminds us that King was unpopular and opposed in the final years before his death. He continues to push past people’s comfort zones. He insisted not just on public events but on righting private wrongs, getting involved in real life, seeing to it that the lives of African Americans actually changed. As we struggle to continue King’s legacy today, it’s worth remembering that while it’s popular to signal our commitment to justice, it’s solving real problems and helping real people that make the difference.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak.