We remember Dr. King

Sunday, January 14, 2024

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tomorrow parish residents, along with others throughout the country, will be celebrating the sacrifices made by civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Legislation was signed in 1983 creating the federal holiday that falls on the third Monday in January, near his Jan. 15 birthday. This year, the day falls on King’s actual birthday. In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, which transformed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a day dedicated to volunteering in honor of King’s legacy. This is the only federal holiday designated by Congress as a national day of service.

The MLK Day of Service was created to empower individuals, strengthen communities and bridge barriers to social problems — moving all people in all areas closer to King’s vision of a “Beloved Community,” which includes justice for all people, not just one oppressed group. King said he felt injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and that justice could not be parceled out to individuals or groups but was, is and always will be a basic right for every human being.

Participation in the MLK Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes and reflecting on King’s life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round. In Jeff Davis Parish, we are very fortunate to have a multitude of festivities planned for all to celebrate and remember King’s sacrifices.

Americans of all races and creeds need to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems, including racial equality. We need to set an example for the next generation so that King’s legacy continues. We must all strive to honor his legacy of love triumphing over hatred and prevailing peace by the way of justice for all.

As King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

May the entire community embrace King’s belief that we are all in this together as one people, not just on his day of remembrance but every day.