Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King (NFDW Action Alert)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was more than just a great American. His legacy will be vibrant forever,
because he changed our country and our history when he challenged our consciousness about
how persons of color were being denied equal treatment in our country.

It is hard to believe the prejudice, injustice and hatred that prevailed in our country back in that
era. When a black man could be lynched just because a mob wanted to commit murder, or when
a child was prevented from receiving an education because he or she was a person of color, our
country was being blinded by this hatred.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership in the non-violent movement was a long and always difficult
road traveled. A bullet fired by another man who hated the love that MLK preached needlessly
took his life on April 4, 1968. Nevertheless, January 20th will always be celebrated because
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth brought light where there was darkness and love where there was
hate.

During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King
Jr. called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. King was
standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and he was addressing
250,000 civil rights supporters from throughout our country. The speech was “a defining moment
of the civil rights movement and among the most iconic speeches in American history,” according
to historical scholars.

As King was nearing the end of his speech, he began to improvise and he began with another
theme: “I have a dream”. According to history writer Jon Meacham, “With a single phrase, Martin
Luther King Jr. joined Jefferson and Lincoln in the ranks of men who’ve shaped modern
America.” The speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century in a 1999 poll of
scholars.

When we watch the videos of Martin Luther King delivering this iconic speech, it is as if he looking
directly into our souls and he is talking directly to each of us. Maybe that is because in today’s
world there is still so much work to do and so many hearts and minds to change. Now we have to
ask ourselves, “Will the Dream live on?” The answer is “Yes” if we help keep the Dream alive by
continuing to seek social justice and working to end racism.

As we are celebrating, let us also recognize the tremendous accomplishment of the Democrats in
the Virginia Legislature and their passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Virginia earned the
iconic status of becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA because of their years of hard work and
dedication to adding the ERA to the U.S. Constitution thus providing more protection from the
issue of sex discrimination. Women and men deserve to know that they will be treated equally in
a court of law when dealing with a sex discrimination issue. It took 100 years to achieve
ratification by a 38th state, and when the language of the Equal Rights Amendment is added to
our Constitution, we will have achieved what most other countries already have in their
constitution.

– NFDW President Cindy Jenks