Tomorrow is a federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday (January 15). The holiday was inaugurated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and became the first federal holiday honoring an African American. Banks, the post office, schools, the stock market, etc., will all be closed. Some individuals and businesses will use MLK Day to “give back” through voluntary public service; others will participate in activities celebrating King’s legacy from New York City to San Francisco (“from sea to shining sea”), and some will simply enjoy an extra day off from work.
Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement forged new techniques and strategies for social change including the use of non-violent “demonstrations” (sit-ins, freedom rides) and the “March.” There was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963) and the “Bloody Sunday” March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (1965), just to name a few of the many. The demonstrations and the marches worked and brought forth the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
I’m grateful the “March” continues to be a means of voicing concerns and grievances. Marches create public awareness of the issues and the injustices in our society. It was fitting that several marches took place this weekend, not only in America, but around the world. In the US the annual anti-abortion March for Life was held on Saturday in Washington, DC and on Sunday, The third annual Women’s March.
Both “marches” this weekend had some problems. All marches have problems. Every march is made up of many different personalities who have many different ways of expression. If not well-organized and directed (especially in non-violent techniques) a “march” can become a “mob,” or vice versa, the onlookers (even law enforcement officials) can become a “mob.” It has happened over and over again. But this is not a good reason to oppose marches. Every citizen has the right under the First Amendment to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We all have different grievances, and whatever they are, we all have a right to express them—but only if we do it in a peaceable way. A so-called “pro-life” group must respect Native American Mr. Phillips, otherwise they cease to be “Pro-Life.” Those who marched on Sunday (supporting and seeking justice for women and to create “transformational social change”) are also “Pro-Life” and they, too, must respect the “pro-life” marchers. How can one be “Pro-Life” and denigrate another life? If you want to really celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, then we all must “learn to live together as brothers (and sisters), or we will all perish together as fools…We must all live together; we must all be concerned about each other.”