By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is properly associated with the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century. But like all great people, his witness transcends his times.
The heroism of Dr. King is found, as it is for other noble figures throughout history, in his commitment to speak truth to power. It is a simple virtue to understand but a most difficult one to live out. Those who do usually pay a price for it.
Though Dr. King did in fact pay the ultimate price for his commitment to naming injustice for what it was, the words he spoke live on. Nearly 50 years after his assassination, he continues to inspire those who strive to create a more just world.
For the Unbound community, the example of Dr. King is not only one we seek to follow, but one we are privileged to witness in the lives of our sponsored friends and their families. Those we work with are quiet heroes and living testaments to the power of human dignity. Their industriousness and the gratitude that characterizes their daily lives prove that the opportunities gained by the sacrifices of champions like Martin Luther King are not in vain.
One of Dr. King’s most persistent messages had to do with the importance of dialogue between people of different backgrounds. “People fail to get along”, he said, “because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
The importance of communication as an avenue for fostering understanding is central to the work of Unbound. On a daily basis we hear stories from sponsors who are grateful for how they have grown through their relationships with their sponsored friends. They tell us they have learned more about the world, more about the challenges of poverty, and have had their eyes opened to the resiliency of those who struggle to survive.
The insights our sponsors gain, and their growth in human solidarity, are not unlike the fruits of relationships forged during the civil rights movement between people of various backgrounds marching shoulder to shoulder in places like Selma, Birmingham and Washington, D.C. When people have the courage to open closed fists and reach out to take the hands of others, wonders can and do occur.
To celebrate Dr. King is not to celebrate an ultimate triumph, but it is to celebrate a man who was faithful to the end to his God, his people and to the truth. The final victory is yet to be realized, and those who truly honor Dr. King understand that.
In the spirit of this good and courageous man, let the work continue.
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