Today in America we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday (1929-1968). I was in college when he was assassinated. We all paraded around campus wearing black armbands.
A troubling time for Americans. Robert Kennedy was destined to be assassinated two months later. His brother President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in 1963.
It was a sad decade.
A couple of years ago, on a trip around the South, I visited the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. The Memorial, created by Maya Lin, is just around the corner from the church where Dr. King served as pastor during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, and the capitol steps where the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march ended in 1965.
A circular black granite stone records the names of those who died and chronicles the history of the movement. Visitors are invited to touch the names. Water flows from the center of the stone. Behind this, on a black curved wall, are inscribed King's words: until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Inside the center, I added my name to the digital 20-by-40 foot Wall of Tolerance promising that: By placing my name on the Wall of Tolerance, I pledge to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights - the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.
King wrote six books and countless sermons and speeches. He inspired millions. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and donated the $54,000 prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.