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Celebrating MLK Day 2021 in a time of tumult

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Washington, D.C., in 1963 where he delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. (Photo via Wikimedia)

It's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021.

If there's one tiny, thin silver lining to the terrible times we are enduring due to COVID-19 and political unrest, it's that these awful realities should help us focus on Dr. King's efforts.

Equal justice: It is the first MLK Day following the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many others that sparked this 21st century drive for justice remind us of those who died or were seriously injured when Dr. King rallied support for equal justice during the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

And we also are reminded on this day of another great loss. The Hon. John Lewis succumbed to pancreatic cancer last July. The Georgia lawmaker, one of Dr. King's compatriots from the beginning, continued to get into good trouble for good causes throughout his life, providing a living example of why we celebrate today.  

Voting rights: One of those causes was for voting rights. We were reminded in a horrific way just weeks ago of how that fight continues today. The rampaging domestic terrorists who stormed the U.S. Capitol were a product of how voter suppression has upended our country.

Efforts to stop Black voters 60+ years ago were obvious and unapologetic. Sadly, that hasn't changed. But as today as then, voters persisted. And on Nov. 3, 2020, voters in majority-minority metropolitan areas were key in electing soon-to-be President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The deadly criminal mob in D.C. on Jan. 6, egged on by politicians and agitators still opposed to full and fair elections, tried but failed to subvert that electoral truth. All the legally cast and accurately counted Biden/Harris votes were certified.

However, the horrible insurrection that delayed that constitutionally decreed action underscored that the fight for the full and fair political representation championed by Dr. King is far from over.

Human and civil rights: As for the coronavirus pandemic, people of color have been the hardest hit. In many cases, that's because of underlying medical conditions exacerbated by historically less-than-optimal health care. In other instances, they are essential workers who are more exposed. Again, equality of care definitely is a human and civil right.

So this day in 2021, when most of us are still self-isolating and the crass economic urge to turn every event and holiday into a sales opportunity is less because we are staying home, is a very good one to remember the real reason for MKL Day.

You can listen to his historic "I Have A Dream" speech. It still resonates. So does Dr. King's last speech before he was assassinated.

You and your family can stream movies and programs about and inspired by Dr. King and the era.

And if you feel you must get out of the house, you can volunteer. In fact, MLK Day has become an official day of service to celebrate Dr. King's life and legacy. Find a way to give back — safely, of course — today.

Conscious and conscientious continuum: How you mark this day is up to you. But please take at least a few minutes to realize that while we as a nation and world have made progress toward the goals set by Dr. King, they are not yet fully realized.

They can be, but only if we all work toward the same dream.

All we have to do to achieve that is follow the words of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right."

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