Wednesday, January 29, 2014
By VALENTINE WILLIAMS
America has produced some outstanding leaders by any measurement. Some have established themselves in one particular area of our national life; while others have had a broader impact, the kind of impact that has made their names household names familiar to nearly everyone.
Dr. Martin Luther King was such a person.
He touched the soul of a nation in his non-violent approach to securing equality for all. He spoke to our consciences, he appealed to the best in all of us, and eventually many responded to the challenge.
Thanks to the leadership he has provided and the support of many others who gave their lives for what they regarded as a worthy cause, African Americans and others can walk through the front doors of public establishments, drink from the same fountain, not required to give up their seats to someone of a different color, or stay in a separate waiting room in a doctorís offices. Last but not least we can vote.
Many of us donít treat these rights that he and others fought so hard to achieve with the value we ought to. They were achieved at a great price but too many of us take them for granted.
There are those who would like to take away these rights from the population that gained them. And there are those in the population that gained them who act as if it wouldnít matter.
To the former I say you cannot turn back the hands of time, although you may try. To the latter group, I say wake up.
When we havenít fought for anything, when we havenít paid a price, when something has just been given to us we often take it for granted. And that is how many of us have behaved towards the things that others have freely given us at great personal sacrifice to themselves.
But King and others deserve honor, they deserve respect, they deserve gratitude of enormous proportion because what they achieved for many of us were victories of enormous proportion. The opportunities they won for us, the quality of life they enabled us to experience and the measure of freedom and equality they gained for us should forever make them heroes in our heart.
We stand on their shoulders, we build on their foundation, they opened the way so we can move ahead based on our work, our talents and our abilities, not the color of our skin. The playing field is not yet level but we are working on it.
Which leads me to my final observation. Those of us who have received from others ought to realize that we owe it to ourselves and those before us to give something back to those who will follow us.
We thank God for Dr. Kingís life and legacy. The seeds that he sowed has continue to bear fruit. Letís water them, letís nourish them so lives can be changed as a result.