Niagara Gazette — Dr. King would be turning 85 years old today had he not been cut down by assassins just three months after his thirty-ninth birthday. His violent murder during the peak of the tumult that ravaged the nation during the riotous 1960s should continue to be overshadowed by his life and the peaceful, nonviolent framework that he advocated as the right way to achieve the sweeping social change that he helped to shepherd into reality.
He left behind a legacy which, nearly fifty years after his murder, continues to challenge America’s commitment to the essential core of its most fundamental principles.
Awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence, in 1965, he and the Southern Christian Leadership Council and others helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches.
The following year, he marched into Chicago expanding the Civil Rights Movement to include the war on poverty while demanding an end to the war in Vietnam.
Events over the past several years seem to echo the struggles that were fought and won fifty years ago, introducing an ominous sense of déjà vu.
Once again, the Nation finds itself at a crossroad, facing hard choices; to withdraw from un-winnable war, this time in Afghanistan and Iraq, or to help those long-term unemployed by extending jobless benefits; should we raise the minimum wage, or continue to ignore the fact that families simply cannot make ends meet on $7.25 per hour and reductions in SNAP “food stamps”?
Should we move forward to revamp our primary and secondary public education systems, or continue to ignore the real problems…drop-out rates, too high, graduation rates, too low; can we really expect Congress to be able to extricate itself from itself long enough to do anything other than fight with each other?