Remember Martin Luther King Jr.

Holidays mean nothing if we don’t learn from their purposes.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrated yesterday, must be remembered as he was-a God-fearing American dedicated to finding nonviolent solutions to the world’s problems. He is honored for his dedication to solving racial problems in America, and rightly so-but we also need to remember his less famous stands against war and inequality.

In King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, given at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, he said: “Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets?

“Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”

The “choice,” aptly spoken by King, is still contemplated by students today. King was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War and spoke with vigor against its inception and continuation.

We often do not learn of King’s anti-war campaigns, but they played a huge role in his life. Many of King’s friends questioned his involvement in the anti-war movement, saying that it hurt the civil rights cause. In response, King said, “I am?greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.”

Those who admire King for the liberation of black Americans should also admire him for his crusade for social justice. King and many other patriots were responsible for the dismantling of the Vietnam conflict. They are ultimately responsible for saving the lives of millions of American GIs who would have gone to war if it were not for those who dared to stand up to their government’s policies. We ought to learn from King’s stands for social justice and replicate them in our own era.

All of the problems that Dr. King sought to solve still exist today. War and other violent conflicts are raging over the world and in the hearts of millions of hateful people.

Inequality also still plagues our nation. According to statistics from Cornell University, blacks have a 300 percent greater poverty rate than whites. Twenty-eight percent of blacks live in poverty, while only 11.2 percent of whites do. Inequality breeds violence, and if we wish to curb violence, we ought to curb inequality.

Poverty also affects us on a global level. Why do you think terrorists strap bombs to their chests and walk into U.S. convoys? They are poor people whose families will receive financial benefits from their father or son’s suicide.

When Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, he was preparing to march with sanitation workers for higher wages and better benefits. He died in the cause of social justice. That is his legacy, and how great it was. His martyrdom in the cause of social justice should not be forgotten. It should be resurrected.

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