Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday in January. Holidays are times of celebration and remembrance. Certain holidays are more significant for some people than for others — based on faith, cultural background, personal experiences, family history, or military service. How we choose to celebrate and reflect are opportunities to share food, historical memorabilia or information, and family, community and personal values.
1964 Nobel Peace Prize
King’s non-violent approach to civil rights demonstrations and disagreements paved the way for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. As a Nobel laureate, King received a gold medal, a diploma, and a cash award valued at $54,000. He donated the entire cash award to the civil rights movement.
A foundation of peace
As we enter 2021, our nation is shouldering social unrest akin to the 1950s and 60s. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic causing uncertainty about the health of our families, schools, and local businesses layers on the dilemmas. In remembering Dr. King, I researched his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. It bears witness today as is it did on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Sweden. Delivered at a time when unrest rained on America’s streets, this excerpt offers insight into the consistency of his messaging:
“After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time—the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.
Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.
Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A method of love
The lessons we learn from our heroes and sheroes frequently contain a common thread that weaves solutions. Solutions for how we live in unity, resolve conflict, and unravel the problems of hunger, homelessness, fair wages, health and education disparities, discrimination and all of the ‘isms.’ That thread, as King eloquently stated, is love. We found it in the eyes of Mother Teresa, who choose to live among and care for the poorest of poor. We found it when Nelson Mandela forgave those who held him captive in a Robben Island jail for 18 of the 28 years, he was imprisoned for standing up to apartheid.
Grasping the power of love
When we, like Dr. King, fully grasp the power of love, we can see our communities and nation begin to transform. When there is a change in the heart and loves presides over hate, a different language emerges from our lips and social media accounts. Love flings fear to the side. Love doesn’t emphasize differences, it reconciles differences. Love is represented in truth, humility, kindness, and respect. Love can heal and be perfected. Above all, love never fails.
“I have decided to stick to love … Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Melanie Houston is president of Vision Resources, Inc. with more than twenty years’ grant and proposal writing experience with non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her passion for serving and expertise has garnered $8 million in client awards. Melanie’s other hats include an award-winning author, Indie publisher, and jewelry designer.
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