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Celebrating Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), was a man of great integrity, values and principles. If alive today, Reverend Dr. King would be 91 years old. Leading the effort toward social justice and equality, Reverend Dr. King’s impact went beyond his local community to inspire change in America and the world. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This day is officially observed the third Monday of January each year (sometimes referred to as MLK Day) which annually coincides with Reverend Dr. King’s birthday, January 15.

Reverend Dr. King taught us that there are far more commonalities that unite us than divide us. He often remarked in speeches delivered across the nation, that if we all took time to talk and get to know our neighbors, we would find that our values, ethics, morals and sense of justice are strikingly aligned. He was the first to acknowledge that while people may disagree on policies and procedures, we are generally in agreement on humanitarian causes centered on love, peace and compassion. In recognition of his nonviolent works towards hope, peace and prosperity of all Americans, this year let us refocus our attention on the elements of life that draw us together and less on the conversations that divide us.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, the month of February is dedicated to honoring and remembering the numerous achievements of Black Americans. Last year’s Black History Month Theme, ”African Americans and the Vote” established by the Association for the Study of African American Life and Heritage (ASALH), would have been preaching to the choir for Reverend Dr. King. He intensely understood the importance of the right to vote in the fight for equality. In 1957, he delivered a speech entitled, “Give Us the Ballot” where he articulated that if Black Americans had the right to vote, they would by voting, receive our basic rights.  Americans turned out in historic numbers for the recent election for president of the United States.  Reverend Dr. King would have been impressed.

As a Washington State Business Resource Group, BUILD seeks opportunities to engage communities around Washington. Our commitment is to share our perspectives on the varying aspects of the social, historical and current trends in equity, diversity and inclusion from the Black Community viewpoint. As part of this effort and journey, we welcome and value allies from all communities to join us in this transformative venture.

In the words of musical genius Stevie Wonder (circa 1979), “If we cannot celebrate a man who died for love, then how can we say we believe in it? It is up to me and you!”

This article was written and originally published by BUILD, Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity.

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