Albuquerque Journal

King’s words have never been more relevant

Nonviolenc­e, community leadership are keys to ending racism and injustice

- BY LEONARD WAITES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NM MLK JR. STATE COMMISSION

On Monday, our nation honored the legacy of slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is a timely relief when people from all walks of life can celebrate the life of a man who offered such a profound message of hope even during extreme socioecono­mic challenges.

King dreamed of an America that is truly equal for all its citizens. He has inspired generation­s of people to change the trajectory of that long arc of the moral universe so that it bends toward justice.

From the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the eventual signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, King’s activism challenged our society to be better and to come together to fight against the evils of racism, poverty and militarism that divides us.

Today, we see the fruits of his labor. We realize the progress that has been made over the past few decades. Separate, but equal, is no longer the law of the land, yet we remain divided. Thus, we recognize that there is much work to be done before we can say that King’s dream has been fully realized.

Even now, as we try to make sense of the turmoil that has had such a severe impact on our country, we have the opportunit­y to defer to King’s wisdom and his guidance.

I believe King would be optimistic about our progress.

As a result of historic turnout at the polls, we have elected the first woman of color as vice president of the United States. We have forever changed the political landscape of this country with the election of Raphael Warnock, the first African American from Georgia to be elected to the Senate, and Jon Ossoff, Georgia’s first Jewish senator.

Conversely, King would be disturbed by the insurgence that unfolded at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. We should all be saddened by the painful reality of such a shameful attack on our democracy.

Therefore, people of color must continue to denounce all forms of racism and oppression. We must change a system of justice that only works for the few and not the many. The basic human right of every worker to earn a living wage has not been achieved. We cannot continue to sustain a system that takes necessitie­s from the poor to subsidize luxuries for the rich. …

Let us remember the future that King envisioned for our nation, that all men and women are created equal. This can only be achieved through our collective courage, with all of us working together.

My hope is that each of you will take the opportunit­y to unite around the fundamenta­l values that all Americans share. Let us continue to work to ensure that our laws, our actions, and our words honor the rights and dignity of every human being.

Help make Dr. King’s Dream a reality as we work to end racism and injustice through nonviolenc­e and through community leadership. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have never been more relevant: “It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolenc­e. It is either nonviolenc­e or nonexisten­ce.”

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