Listening to a recital of Martin Luther King’s historic speech on Radio 4 this morning, 50 years to the day today, I am willing to admit that I was moved to tears…
Moved to tears, not just by the powerful words themselves, but by the list of people the BBC had put together to recite the words – Maya Angelou, Doreen Lawrence, Joan Baez, Mary Robinson, the Dalai Lama, Malala, Stevie Wonder… Men and women who have followed in Luther King’s footsteps, and put themselves on the line in the global fight for justice and dignity.
Men and women who cannot be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Outstanding role models for all of us to look up to and to aspire to follow.
Many have followed that long road over the past 50 years – but it is a journey not yet ended. Injustice and oppression of many forms remain – and not just in the US but across the world – including close to home within the UK.
To honour the memory of Martin Luther King, we cannot simply look back and celebrate That Speech – or the many achievements of the civil rights movement and other comparable struggles over the past half century.
To honour Martin Luther King, we must take forward the baton ourselves. Which are the injustices we are prepared to put ourselves on the line for; what are the struggles we are prepared to engage in; and what are the dreams for ourselves, our children, our nation and our world that we are prepared to put our name to?