MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: A MAN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: 
A MAN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
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The United States of America has honored only four men in history by declaring the day of their birth a national day of celebration - Jesus Christ of Nazareth, widely accepted as the father of all mankind; President George Washington, the father of this nation; Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose forebears were brought to these shores in chains. 
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That says a lot about this humble Black man.  In spite of the fact that Dr. King began his life burdened by the inherent disadvantages of being blessed with Black skin in a Jim Crow environment, his words, his intellect, and his deeds so inspired the heart and soul of humanity that America saw fit to set aside a day for this nation - this world - to thank God that he was allowed to walk among us. His was a soul with such strength that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of  humanity. That's not only a testament to one Black man's ability to pull himself up from the dust of his humble beginnings, it's also a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness.
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When one considers that even today some are engaged in a raging controversy over the intellectual capacity of the African American people, it only further emphasizes Dr. King s stature in this society, which speaks with flawless eloquence to the boundless potential of the African American intellect.
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Admitted to Morehouse College at 15 years of age and a Nobel Peace Prize winner by age 34, Dr. King rose to become one of the most honored men in this country s history. By his untimely death at age 39, it was clear that his was to be one of those rare voices that would speak to all men, for all time. Long after the bones of his detractors have turned to dust, this unassuming young man's name will continue to reverberate throughout the ages.
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That was the legacy of Martin Luther King. Through his moral strength and tenacity he demonstrated to America that the Black man was much more than just a beast of burden, and through his intellect, and his ability to personify all of black America, he inspired the world to embrace his cause. Thus, the legacy of Martin Luther King - like the man himself - stands as a monument to the depth and breadth of the African American culture.
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Too often we focus on the most negative aspects of the African American, while we totally ignore the great strides that are being made by the vast majority of Black people. We pay special attention to the relatively few violent, Black criminals, while we ignore the millions of Black law abiding citizens; we focus on the undereducated in the Black community, while we turn a blind eye to the hordes of African American students and professionals who are flooding our colleges and universities; we ve become experts on those African Americans who are a burden on our society, while we remain blissfully ignorant of the multitude of African American doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, laborers, musicians, writers, architects, homemakers - and yes, now a president - who contribute their unique talents to making this a better world. These are the people - the people who Martin cherished - who we truly honor in any tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King.  Because as we honor Martin and Malcolm, and all of the other nameless Black heroes who have struggled, and in many cases given their lives to move our people forward, we cannot help but honor ourselves.  That is the true meaning of Martin's legacy.
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In any tribute to Dr. King, we also celebrate a new culture - a culture conceived in pain, delivered into turmoil, and baptized in a sea of deprivation. We celebrate a culture that is only now in the Spring of its development, yet, a culture that has managed to combine the wisdom, strength, and spirituality of its African origins, with the sophistication, knowledge, and creative intellect of its new found home. 
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So on this day, let us also gaze upon the mountain top - inspired by the knowledge that our reach no longer exceed our grasp.  Let us dedicate our lives to leaving the world a little better than we found it. And while we take a furtive look back - let it not be in anger, but with a resolve, and a sense of pride at what we ve overcome. And during this time, let us take at least one moment to thank God that Martin, this humble and spiritual Black man, was allowed to walk among us. 
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And finally, let us take a moment to listen to our hearts, as they quietly murmur, free at last!--every man, woman and child. Free at last!--from the sandy beaches of California to the shores of Maine.  Free At Last!--from America’s shores to the tiniest village in Zimbabwe. THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE RE FREE AT LAST!

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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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