Presented on 19 January 2015 - Thank you for inviting me here today on behalf of Mayor Skibitsky, who expresses his sincere regrets that he could not be here today to share in this celebration. On his behalf and on behalf of the Town Council, it is my pleasure to speak to you today – to celebrate and honor the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Drawing from his own experiences, his worldly observations, his Christian teachings, his education, and his personal principles, Dr. King became a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the Fifties and Sixties. His concept of “somebodiness” symbolized the celebration of human worth and offered hope and a sense of dignity to many. Gathering inspiration from the writings of Henry Thoreau and the beliefs of world leaders like Gandhi, Dr. King seeked peaceful transformation and his philosophy of nonviolent direct action and strategies for rational and non-destructive social change galvanized the conscience of a nation.
Dr. King envisioned a “Beloved Community”, a term first coined in the early days of the 20th Century by the philosopher-theologian Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. However, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who suggested a deeper meaning for such a term, capturing the imagination of people of goodwill all over the world.
In the Beloved Community, Dr. King recognized that conflict was inevitable, a part of human experience. No conflict, he believed, need erupt in violence. He believed that conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment of nonviolence, with all conflicts in The Beloved Community ending with reconciliation of adversaries cooperating together in a spirit of friendship and goodwill.
In light of recent conflicts in towns and cities across the US, may Dr. King’s message of peaceful transformation, brotherly love and peace rather than violence “ring out”. Let Dr. Kings words promote and inspire social justice to resolve conflict and to choose peace rather than violence and destruction.
Each year on this day we take time to remember Dr. King, a charismatic leader whose words and message of peace remain with us. May Dr. King's message of peaceful action, brotherhood and equality continue to be as resounding today as it was during the Civil Rights movement?