Today is the day that, on a National scale, we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., for his tireless efforts to secure civil rights.
Now, I was too young to have known about MLK, or the impact he had at that time. I lived in lily-white Republican Glendale, California at the time, and even though my parents were not bigots, they had prejudices, and people of other races were politely ignored, or talked about, and when they were talked about, they were referred to as "those poor so-and-so" people.
Today, though, we have made progress, but MLK's work is not done. We still have poverty, and minorities, be they black, or Latino, make up too much of that demographic. The civil rights legislation to give minorities an equal opportunity at higher education has been whittled away, due to some arguments that it gave those minorities too much of an advantage. And I'm sure that there are many things - employment, income, legal rights, racial profiling - that MLK would target today. And I'm sure for a man who grasped the spoken word and the media of the time, Twitter, Facebook and other sources of social media and the internet would be valuable tools.
I honor the man for two reasons. First, I don't see his words of equality as his sole message. He truly spoke of the Gospel message of Love, God's love, for ALL mankind. Yes, he wanted equality for blacks, but his message was broader than that. He saw the utopia of no racial prejudices or bigotry, or inequality. In a way, it was a vision that Gene Roddenberry, who created "Star Trek", saw as well. In fact, when MLK met with Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura, he encouraged her to continue her work on that show, because of the position of influence she presented. Here was not just a black woman as a maid. Uhura's character was an officer, in charge of ship communications, and given storylines that presented her as strong-willed, intelligent, articulate - a dynamic and real person. And today, Nichols often speaks of how that meeting changed her. MLK had a vision of a future where all were equal.
The other thing I honor MLK for is that he was a true man of ethics. I'm sure that during his time in the public eye, and being watched carefully by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, they tried to find any dirt on him, and they may have made up stories and had them published as a means to tarnish MLK. But history, as far as I know, has been kind to the man. There has not been (at least not to my knowledge) stories of young women whom he'd have sex with, or improprieties with church funds, or excessive drinking, or experimentation with the drugs of the time. I haven't seen anything that would suggest that he wasn't the a man of God, the ethical man, the loving man that he was. History has not tarnished him, nor has idolized him as it has JFK or FDR. Perhaps it needs to do more than a day off and a monument.
Perhaps WE need to take his message of Love for ALL men and truly live it. That would be the best way to honor the memory of MLK.