Unity: What Dr. Martin Luther King Day Means in 2017

March on Washington, D.C.  August 28. 1963.

Photo by Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

March on Washington, D.C. August 28. 1963.

McKenzie Smith, Staff Writer

The thing about Martin Luther King Jr. Day is that its significance is often mistakenly limited to history. In case you, too, find it hard to remember what you’ve been taught about his life, here’s a quick recap. Dr. King was an influential man who played a pivotal role in the ending of legal segregation and the creation of the Civil Rights Act (1964) as well as the Voting Rights Act (1965). He organized and conducted endless non-violent protests to promote civil rights reform in what is known as the Civil Rights Movement. A beacon of hope and determination, he fought for what believed in with infinite strength that could not be measured by the amount of rubble left behind him simply because he did not believe in ending violence with violence. King was assassinated in 1968.

The significance of Martin Luther King’s life is not in the outcome but in his underlying philosophy and passion. Turning away from violence was the key to the change he made. Seeing his oppressors as humans, and treating them as such, granted him the success he is known for. Because the blind and often times irrational rage that causes us to violently lash out is in human nature, it is astonishing to imagine someone putting aside their own humanity to achieve something so much bigger than themselves.

In regards to today, the problem has more to deal with that it is much harder to imagine anyone taking a moment out of their day to realize they’re not the only one on this planet. While I’ll admit that it sounds a bit cynical, I cannot ignore the fact that too many people are blind to how they affect the world and how the world affects them. There is no way anything will ever be solved if it is ignored. In terms of human rights, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Like it or not, everyone is connected in one way or another and not helping others ultimately hurts you as well.

In a time where it is becoming increasingly evident that division is counterproductive and even dangerous as we’ve seen over the past few months, unity is now our greatest advantage. It’s important to realize that the strength of one person cannot compare to the strength of many in union with one another. In the end, hate will not end hate just as fighting fire with fire will only make the world burn.

We remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his bravery to face the dark with only a flicker of light and for his selflessness to fight for what he believed was right for all people.