A Day of Inspiration for Justice


January 21, 2013

Dear friends,

A memorable day today as the country honors Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and we witness the inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term as President.

This year, the inauguration has been marking a more public launch of the battle for fair and just immigration reform, with expectations that the President would reveal his immigration proposal soon afterwards -- and might hint at the issue in his inaugural speech.

So perhaps it is even more fitting today to remind ourselves of the commitment to justice and racial equality for which we honor Dr. King.

A couple of months ago, I spent a beautiful day in Washington, DC, strolling through the MLK Memorial. I had been eager to go there, long-inspired by the deeds and words of Dr. King. My first born son was named in his honor, and I was glad to find a few hours before catching a flight home to finally make the visit.

I found myself pausing to photograph every quote inscribed in stone. And I wasn't alone. I was warmed by the diversity of other visitors, and confess to listening in on their conversations as they stopped to read the quotes selected for the memorial. I also listened to the narration shared by the two young African-American women, park rangers, who told the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a story they must have told hundreds of times -- and yet did so with evident  enthusiasm and pride.

Unfortunately, for many, knowledge of Dr. King is largely based on his most famous quotes -- so much more needs to be done to enrich the telling of his story. But here's a link to more quotes -- and wonderful photos -- that are not often seen or heard, and which tell, in many ways, a story of Dr. King's deeper reflections and commitments to justice for all.

In his words: "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say...I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity." The Drum Major Instinct (1968)

Let's have a good year for justice.




Catherine Tactaquin

Executive Director, NNIRR