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This month marks the August 28, 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, where over a quarter million people gathered and heard my Uncle Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - fondly remembered as “Uncle M. L. - deliver his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” “
While I didn’t attend the famous March on Washington, I grew up learning the lessons that my Uncle shared that day. Through young adulthood, marriage, motherhood, and as a state legislator and human rights activist, my life is framed by these lessons. As my siblings and cousins were coming of age, I was already involved in the movement learning firsthand at the feet of my Uncle M.L. and my amazing father, Rev. A.D. King. My siblings and I marched in “The Children’s March.”
Later I became a volunteer youth organizer in the “Fair Housing Movement” organized by my father and others in Kentucky, where I marched and even went to jail during the protests. On these anniversaries, the memories become even more vivid. Yet, while I always live with the memories and lessons of those days with my Daddy, Grandfather and Uncle, I know Uncle M. L.’s dream is alive and relevant today.
As the oldest niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I often feel the twin emotions of wanting to protect my Uncle’s legacy while fully understanding that he and his memory belong to the ages; while still having an impact today. Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be my Uncle M. L., my Daddy A.D.’s big brother.
But for the world, he will forever be the most highly recognized 20th-century civil rights leader who shepherded America toward the promised land of racial justice. He will forever be the slain martyr whose lessons of non-violence live on.
When groups or individuals feel their rights are being infringed, they often pull up a quote from one of my Uncle’s speeches. He was indeed the champion of the underdog. But every cause is not created equal. Deep in my heart, I know that Uncle M.L. would be appalled at having his name associated with causes that undermine the nuclear family and ravage the innocence of children; in the womb and beyond.
While Uncle M. L.’s name is invoked for many causes, we must remember that his belief system was deeply rooted in his Judeo-Christian beliefs. My Uncle, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a devout follower of Jesus. He believed Christ came to seek and save the lost. Uncle M.L.’s love for all of humanity was grounded in his love for God’s people.
Please do not believe that he championed every cause, political agenda or social movement. I have the good “common sense” to believe what my Uncle M.L. taught me. The very core of his teachings was rooted in the Christian sense, which is common sense. His most famous speech may be copyright protected, but the lessons from that common sense speech are free for all of us; and are applicable in every generation, even today.
My Uncle took those lessons primarily from the Constitution of the United States and the holy, infallible word of God. As the oldest living protector of the King Family legacy, I am excited to share this 60th anniversary with the world. I, however, am not willing to sit back silently and watch my Uncle’s legacy be twisted and warped to embrace nonsense.
One of my Uncle's most commonly used quotes is, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The lesson that we can take from this quote and my Uncle’s life is that he believed that people should be treated with human dignity and respect. We know from his life that he believed human rights should not be abridged because of your race or your sex.
We respect every ethnicity as members of the one-blood human race. However, again, I say that all causes are not created equal. While using his words, I have seen groups attempt to justify actions my Uncle would never have condoned.
“Out of one blood, God made all men dwell upon the face of the earth. What a marvelous foundation for any home! What a glorious and healthy place to inhabit. But America’s strayed away, and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality.” Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
I dare anyone to tell me that my Uncle would support allowing innocent babies to be torn limb by limb from their mother’s womb. I dare anyone to tell me that my Uncle would march for little boys and girls to be given the disastrous drugs and surgeries that some call “gender-affirming” care. My Uncle would likely be like Daniel of the Bible and urge America to repent. He would likely weep to see the race/skin color wars and crime sprees invade our great urban centers, all in the name of social justice.
The Uncle M.L. I remember lived on earth was guided by Christian sense, which is common sense; and is free to each and every one of us.