Honoring King’s memory

By Walt Braun

Sometimes time flies. This is the 25th year that the Manhattan community formally observes the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.  This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the installation of the bust of Dr. King on the KSU campus and the dedication of 17th Street in his honor.

And sometimes time crawls. This anniversary will be the first since the dedication of the King Memorial in Washington, D.C., a memorial too long in coming. As impressive as it is, it’s still unfinished. It awaits a correction to an excerpt of a sermon Dr. King gave that in being condensed for placement at the memorial altered the meaning of Dr. King’s words.

There is no shortage of local activities to honor Dr. King’s memory with others. In the coming days there will be lectures, vigils, prayer, meals, entertainment, an awards ceremony and other activities. There also will be opportunities to improve our community by serving others .

We encourage residents to participate in as many as schedules allow. We’re confident that exposure to and knowledge of the slain civil rights leader’s dream can instill in us a greater willingness to live it. Though he’s most famous for advocating racial equality — and doing so nonviolently — Dr. King also sought to right other wrongs, especially poverty.

Individuals don’t need Dr. King’s oratorical skills to join that effort. Nor is it necessary to risk our lives, though it can take moral courage to refuse to abide racism or other forms of bigotry. Mostly it involves recognizing the dignity of fellow human beings and measuring them by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

It involves realizing that a great many of our fellow citizens need assistance and that there is no limit to the ways we can serve. That service can take the form of raking leaves or shoveling snow for people unable to do it themselves; supporting laws and policies that correct injustice; donating supplies, skill or labor the next time Habitat for Humanity erects a home; taking food to the Flint Hills Breadbasket or decent clothing and furniture to the Salvation Army; giving blood; spending an afternoon with someone who’s in poor spirits or tutoring a child who doesn’t think he can learn.

And it involves making such acts a way of life, not merely something we do every January in honor of someone who gave his life for others.

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