At some point in our lives, almost every American has wanted to effect political change in the system. Whether it was to enact a new law, or to amend the Constitution, courageous individuals have come forward to lead the effort to bring about change in order to right a wrong or to extent civil rights and liberties to all citizens of our great nation. These individuals have endured hatred and bigotry and have been reviled for their audacity in denouncing racism, sexism, and religious prejudice.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the foremost leaders in the struggle to achieve civil rights and political equality in our society, and he gave his life in pursuit of the dream of racial equality. He did not seek change through violence, but by using the political process to end discrimination in education, housing, and employment. He fought against segregation, realizing that separate and unequal societies could not continue to exist without ultimately bringing us into armed and violent conflict.
Dr. King taught tolerance and acceptance of the views of others. He used peaceful protests and non-violence resistance to soften the hardest heart among his adversaries. For the poor and downtrodden among us, he brought hope of educational opportunities and worthwhile employment from which men and women could rise up to fulfill their dreams – not only for themselves, but for generations to come.
Today, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the light he placed upon the mountain to guide us to a fairer, more just society with equality of opportunity for all. This day of respect and commemoration should be a time for us to reflect upon and renew our commitment to peace, harmony, equality, and justice.
Recently, however, Sen. Mark Madsen has suggested that we join this celebration of the life of Dr. King with the celebration of the life of John Browning. Although the contributions of Mr. Browning to our state and our nation are great, I respectfully but vehemently disagree, that a holiday celebrating Mr. Browning should be lumped in with Martin Luther King, Jr, Day.
I have no problem with Sen. Madsen’s desire to celebrate Mr. Browning’s accomplishments, but as columnist Paul Rolly stated, “The Utah Legislature has a contentious history with the holiday honoring King. After President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation creating the federal holiday, bitter debates resulted in a compromise, calling the holiday “Human Rights Day.”
“Utah changed the name to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2000, becoming the last state to do so.”
Dr. King taught our nation so much that remains with us to this very day. He showed us that we could overcome being a victim without becoming a tormentor. He showed us that the love of God could overcome the weakness of men, and that we could bring the peace and love of God into the world. And most of all, he taught us how to more fully pursue our unique American dream as one nation, united in common purpose regardless of our differences. Today, more than 40 years after his untimely passing, Dr. King stands as one of our country’s greatest heroes, and he deserves to be honored as such.