On what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s 94th birthday, several ceremonies to honor the fallen Civil Rights Era icon and his legacy were held at the King Memorial today. At the base of the massive and imposing white granite statue of Dr. King, attendees of the various programs reflected on his life and all that he achieved before he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1968.
Dr. King’s wisdom, impact and enduring legacy along with his espousing universal values of non-violence and peace have inspired and influenced people the world over. In his quest of utilizing non-violence as a tool for change he issued many warnings about the dangers and consequences of war.
Among them he made the profoundly dithyrambic proclamation that “It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” His foreboding of nuclear war was summed up in 1968 when he observed that “…our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.”
As a national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year falls on a Monday, creating a three-day weekend that anti-war activists have taken in organizing events over the past several days, some of whom handed out pamphlets to passersby advocating their positions on stopping all wars and other related issues.
Among their slogans are “Stop Washington’s war moves toward Russia and China! Stop endless U.S. wars: Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Yemen…. everywhere!, No to NATO! Money for human needs, not war! Not one more penny for Ukraine!”
Citizens’ Covid Origin Inquiry (covidorigins.org) addressed their concerns over bioweapon development, especially “gain-of-function” (GoFR) research on dangerous pathogens. The group highlighted King’s denouncement of bioweaponry and use of biological weapons. Dr. King noted in 1959 at the Thirty-sixth Annual Dinner of the War Resisters League in New York that “…throughout the nation and the world, we live in an age of conflict, an age of biological weapons, chemical warfare, atomic fallout and nuclear bombs. It is a period of conflict between the mammoth powers. Every man, woman and child lives, not knowing if they shall see tomorrow’s sunrise.”
Chiseled on one of the many granite panels with quotations by Dr. King that surround the plaza area of the memorial is one onto which the following is inscribed “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
Other sponsoring organizations also included Peace in Ukraine, The United National Anti-War Commission (UNAC) and Code Pink.
Reflecting on the then state of society in an era before computers and cell phones, King pointed out that sociology had lagged behind modern advancements and continued to reside in hate and distrust when he said, “Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood.”
While we honor Dr. King’s memory on this day, we all must remain actively engaged in seeing that his “I had a dream” speech becomes a reality for the fulfillment and the betterment of all humankind.
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Photo: Phil Pasquini
(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.