The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was actually January 15 (1929); however, as is the usual practice, most holidays in the U. S.—other than the majors, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and the Fourth of July—are “celebrated” on a Monday, thus giving many people a three-day holiday weekend. Unfortunately, many of the people that Dr. King championed—the black and the working poor—have minimum-wage jobs, and they do not get paid holidays off.
King was a civil rights leader and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and certainly ranks up there with Nelson Mandela, another Prize winner. Both cite Mahatma Gandhi as their inspiration; however Gandhi—nominated five times—was never awarded The Peace Prize, perhaps so as not to have angered Britain. It is unfortunate that discrimination can even exist at the highest levels; but, the facts are the facts.
Dr. King was an inspiration to anyone who ever felt discrimination: blacks; Latinos; Jews; Asians; other foreigners; women; gays and lesbians; the disabled; elderly; and anyone else who was blocked from Mainstream America: decent jobs; a right to live safely wherever they chose; to marry whom they wish; and a job that pays a living (not a minimum) wage.
Sure, we no longer have slavery in the U. S; however, it has just been replaced by Economic Discrimination. Blacks are relegated to more dilapidated schools, forced to live in drug and gang-infested ghettos, left with the mostly lower rungs of the employment landscape, and they can only pass-on more of the same to their offspring. No health insurance, insufficient food and shelter, no extra funds to set aside for college, and with no hope of escape from that morass.
Perhaps Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller said it best, back in 1946, when he wrote the poem: “First they came…”, about the failure of Germans to understand the dangers of Naziism:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”