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A Legacy of Freedom and Dignity: How can we best honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?

By · January 17th, 2002 · Three Way
David N. Schaff
President, Hamilton County Young Democrats

To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we must continue to fight for justice and equality for the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. We must strive to become more tolerant of one another and be determined to create equal opportunities for all citizens.

Our challenge is to determine what small steps we can take to work toward these goals. Remember Dr. King did not stop after the first march or sit-in. He continued the people's fight every day, taking small steps to reach the mountaintop.

Learning about Dr. King's life and mission will help us to discover the challenges we must conquer today.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for being one of the greatest orators of the 20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, his words led the Civil Rights Movement and helped change society. He is best known for helping achieve civil equality for African Americans, which can still be taught through his speeches, which often show that his true goal was much larger than that. He hoped to achieve acceptance for all people, regardless of race or nationality.

A few landmark speeches that many draw motivation from include "I Have a Dream," his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, his eulogy for the young victims of the Birmingham church bombing and "I've Been to the Mountaintop," the last speech he gave before his death.

In that last speech, Dr. King acknowledged that if he were given a choice of what age to live in, he said he would live at the current time, because "we have been forced to grapple with the problems" of mankind. He continued on in the speech, stating in this time "we've got to stay together and maintain unity."

I, too, would choose no other time to live in and am willing to continue to fight to overcome the barriers of justice and equality.

Will you join me?

Charles Tassell
President of Blue Chip Young Republicans

It is interesting that as a nation we celebrate civil rights by ignoring so many who dedicated their entire lives and, in many cases, made the ultimate sacrifice. Instead we (almost) deify one man while ignoring his very dream.

Martin Luther broke from tradition. Martin Luther King followed and, in the method of Gandhi, helped move an idea forward that was ultimately denied by the movement.

The hypocrisy of the civil rights activists throughout the '70s and '80s is that they denied King's dream: judging by character, not skin color. As the movement sold out to civil service and affirmative action, the champion party moved from the Republicans to the Democrats -- who previously were tied to the South and the Ku Klux Klan.

Democrats still hold to those roots, though now it is clothed in a liberal elitism that believes minorities cannot compete without help. In fact, Republicans brought the first civil rights bills back in the late '50s and '60s, only to have them voted down by disingenuous Democrats.

If we really wanted to honor the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, we should hold true to his dream these 30-plus years later by finally eliminating quotas and ensuring fair play.

Derrick Blassingame
Activist against racism and police violence

Martin Luther King Day should be celebrated in the spirit of what Dr. King called "soul force," meaning that all of the issues we face in our city and country need a spiritual, peaceful and nonviolent, proactive approach.

Celebrating this day in Martin's dream allow us to view the world in a more unprejudiced manner. Racism -- one of the crucial setbacks we face in Cincinnati -- must be abolished from the human mind, body and soul.

Martin's dream is deeply rooted in our minds as we strive for justice and social change. We learn that his dream was not only meant for blacks, the poor and the oppressed, but his views were universal. He spoke on behalf of the unheard.

We all owe a thank you to dear Martin. His dream was of peace, equality, freedom and justice for all -- a dream that our eyes would be blind to color, that we look upon one another and see a human being before we see anything.

Martin dedicated his life at such a young age for justice and social change for all Americans. His strategies for non-violent civil disobedience gave him and the protesters moral authority in everyone of their demonstrations.

It is very important to all citizens, especially Cincinnatians, that we celebrate the vision and dream of Dr. King. As people who believe in Martin's philosophy, we must strive for change in our country.

Being involved is showing honor to Dr. King. It allows everyone to know that the dog bites, the police brutality and the violence of law enforcement during his demonstrations in Montgomery and Birmingham were not in vain. Dr. King lived his life dedicated and determined for change. It is our turn to live the dream and make it true.



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