Recently Kumail Nanjiani tweeted that the best Star Trek...
Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. day and I will admit I forgot the connection between the holiday and the postal service yesterday afternoon and walked into a Post Office to deliver a package. And then walked right back out again, unfortunately too late to stop myself from having lured three other cars into the previously empty parking lot on similar errands. MLK day is one of those strange half-holidays that Mondays in America seem littered with in the fall and winter. A minority of the work force has the day off and the celebrations seem limited to TV specials, a parade that is only attended by that minority with the day off or without a morning clock-in, and the observances of school children.
I’m in no way complaining about the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nor do I find it quaint or passé. We are all still working on the most basic premises of his dream for racial equality and social justice; his message is far from irrelevant or outdated. But what my experience yesterday told me was that the celebration of his life’s work was one of those good things I like to think about and maybe mention when it rolls around, but it isn’t something I feel actively a part of or particularly look forward to as a day of observance.
And that is what up my mind that this week’s ten things would be about Martin Luther King, Junior’s philosophies on conscientious citizenry — which he was inspired in in no small part by Gandhi, going so far as to visit India in the 50’s — and how those philosophies are both inherently American and a constant challenge to our citizenry to demand cultural and social justice from our government and from each other, not in anger or contempt, but out of the connective tissue of our mutual patriotism and humanity.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. is the only American citizen (non-political, non-military figure) to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor. In that sense, he is considered to be our most celebrated and influential “average American,” a national hero for what he accomplished for our country. All 50 states currently celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, though that was not the case until the year 2000. (Beginning in 1993, all states observed a day in honor of MLK, but it was not until the turn of the century that the holiday was called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in all 50 states.)
- On the culture of political and ideological obstinacy: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
- Exactly a year before he was assassinated, King gave an anti-war speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” which alienated many of his pro-war supporters, including President Lyndon Johnson, Life Magazine, and the Washington Post, which accused King of betraying his relevance to the nation with his anti-Vietnam views. (toptenz.net)
- On social connectivity: ”Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of ten martyrs of oppression from around the globe of whom a statue was carved for inclusion in the facade of Westminster Abbey.
- “King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963. It was at this event that King gave his electrifying “I Have A Dream” speech.” (itthing.com) Jobs and Freedom, anyone?
- On charity vs. social programs: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
- In the nine years preceding his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled more than 6 million miles, giving over 2500 speeches. Additionally, he wrote articles prolifically for print publications as well as five books.
- On education: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
- “At his widow’s request, King’s last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was played at the funeral, a recording of his ‘Drum Major’ sermon, given on February 4, 1968. In that sermon, King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to ‘feed the hungry,’ ‘clothe the naked,’ ‘be right on the [Vietnam] war question,’ and ‘love and serve humanity.’” (itthing.com)
And a +1, just because: MLK was a Trekkie and, according to William Shatner’s memoirs, encouraged Nichelle Nichols to remain on the original “Star Trek” series.