King’s message of unity still serves as a guide

Just over four months ago, a groundswell of patriotism emerged in this country. With it came a deeper appreciation for the risks taken by our forefathers to establish this nation founded in freedom.

A second, equally important element accompanied the word "liberty" and the notion of freedom in the historic Declaration of Independence — the fundamental belief that "all men are created equal."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the power of these words and rose up to challenge the long-established white definition of the phrase "all men are created equal." He fought racial intolerance with peaceful demonstrations, skillful language and heightened social awareness.

Last Thursday, over a thousand people assembled in downtown Everett to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, the event, designed to honor the legacy and celebrate the birth of Dr. King, became in part a victim of its own energy. Some of the over 500 people who marched in the streets from Everett Community College were unable to join those already gathered inside The Historic Everett Theater to listen as King’s son Martin Luther King III addressed our community. There were far more people than seats to accommodate them. The disappointment was only slightly tempered by the knowledge that a single man — assassinated long before many of those marching were even born — could still invoke the kind of passion that could inspire hundreds to gather in the streets on a bitterly cold afternoon to honor his life.

His message of peaceful resolution to conflict should continue to serve as a guide to our troubled nation as we grapple with a fight thrust on us by intolerance and hatred.

The following excerpt, taken from a sermon delivered by Rev. King in Nov. of 1963, entitled "The Most Durable Power" echoes a strong reminder of the price that can be paid when justice is sought through furious violence and retaliation.

"As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos."

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