And last, but not least, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about unity. In spite of all the “unearned suffering” he endured, nothing he did was about revenge, hatred, or getting even. He always took the high road. He just continually worked to make the world a better place for his children. Inspired and even driven by the non-violent tenets of Gandhi, he lived the proverbial teaching, “Turn the other cheek.” We celebrate his life because he gave us hope. He gave us a role model who endured monumental suffering and still stood tall. He was truly “his brothers’ keeper.”
Dr. King Dreamed of Unity
I cannot possibly conclude a reflection on the impact of Dr. King’s life without mentioning his most famous speech, ‘I have a Dream.’ Watching his prophetic dream come more and more into focus underscores the importance of vision and that we should all have a dream we can believe in. To me, his dream was primarily about unity.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
One Day We Will Not Be Judged By the Color Our Skins
I believe that nothing can begin to bring about unity and cooperation better than the genuine acknowledgement that we are all created equal. There is no superior race; just as there is no inferior race. There is only one human race and science and religion has proven it. Dr. King dreamed that one day we would, “sit together at the table of brotherhood,” and that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Our hatred, fear, selfishness and ignorance continues to keep us at odds with each other. We’ve got to remember that unity sets us all free.
The Historical Unity Between Blacks and Whites
I have a Black History Month presentation that I offer entitled, “The Historical Unity between Blacks and Whites.” In this presentation I focus on the wonderful and often unacknowledged contributions of African Americans. Black history is about black and white history. It is impossible to fully tell our story without telling his story. I share the true history, both good and bad. But, I choose to also acknowledge the positive contributions of the whites. This strategy leaves both Blacks and Whites feeling more unified, grateful and proud of their past unity, instead of reminders of victimization, anger, hatred, and shame. This climate of mutual respect can go a long way to building bridges of understanding, respect, and appreciation.
Let’s Join Together in Our Common Struggle
The words of his wife, Coretta Scott King reinforce his desire for unity of all people.
“The civil rights movement, which Martin led, gave fresh emphasis to the timelessness of our ideals and inspired countless millions around the world. With Martin’s holiday, we celebrate those heroes and heroines, not only blacks, but of all races and religions, who struggled, suffered, persevered, and helped to change our Nation for the better… Martin called upon peoples of every nation to join together in a common struggle against the enemies of humanity: Tyranny, poverty, racism, disease, and war. The national holiday is a time for personal re-commitment to do something about these evils.”
Barbara Talley is a keynote speaker, author, poet, and trainer who can be reached at www.thepoetspeaks.com. Still looking for a keynote speaker for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or Administrative Professional Day, phone Barbara at 301-428-4831.