Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be celebrated Jan. 17, 2011
By Joe Olvera ©, 2011
Serving humanity is the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and as El Paso gets ready, along with hundreds of small and large cities across the United States, one is reminded that the great man deserves to be celebrated not only in the U.S., but throughout the world – a world which he helped to make better, a world which mourned his passing at the hands of an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1968,
“I feel it’s the celebration of a great man for the entire world,” said Algie Felder, who knew Martin Luther King because his wife was a first cousin of Coretta Scott King, MLK’s wife of many years – who, herself died in 2007. “He represented freedom for untold millions of people.”
King, who caused a nation to honor his legacy, albeit, with some reluctance, is no longer with us, but, his service to humanity continues. January 17, the 3rd Monday of each January, will see people across the United States follow in King’s footsteps by providing service in hospitals, shelters, and prisons. People will volunteer to feed the hungry, rehab housing, and tutor people who can’t read – among other necessities.
When Rep. Katie Hall of Indiana proposed that a special day be set aside to honor King, even then-President Reagan had second thoughts because of what he considered an exorbitant cost. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms objected because:he wondered if King was important enough to merit the honor. He criticized MLK’s opposition to the Vietnam War and said he was promoting what Helms called “action-oriented Marxism.”
“I met him and would talk to him before he died,” Felder said. “His wife and my wife were family, so we often met. I could feel his power, just standing close to him. I could feel the great man that he was. But, one had to be in his presence to feel the strength that emanated from him. He had a powerful compassion for all mankind.”
MLK, who was known for his powerful “I have a Dream” speech in the nation’s capital, had other great sayings. He said:
“Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them;”
I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but, I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good;”
And, of course, his strongest: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but, by the content of their character.”
MLK, born January 15, 1929 was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement. A follower of the non-violent teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, he led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.
In 1963, he marched on Washington with hundreds of thousands of followers where he gave his famous speech. In 1964, he won the Nobel Peace Prize – the youngest person at age 35 to win that prestigious award. Felder, who owns radio station KPAS (103.1 FM), said that El Paso will come out in force to continue the King legacy. “Church choirs will sing loud and clear in honor of the great and gentle man.”