Dear Morgan Family,
As we pause today to honor the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my message is a rather short one.
Dr. King, and so many other “foot soldiers” of the Civil Rights Movement, fought for, and ultimately gave their lives, pushing for America to live up to the ideals of Justice, Liberty and Freedom which are woven into the tapestry of our society’s most consequential texts—the U.S. Constitution. These ideals undeniably contend that everyone is created equal and should be treated that way. Much progress has been made since 1968 to build a more inclusive, equitable and just nation. In contrast, what we have seen over the last few years—reaching a horrifying crescendo on January 6, 2021 within the respected halls of our U.S. Capitol—was a movement to turn back the hands of time on progress, and, ostensibly, attempt to move the country back five decades or more.
Dr. King was a leader who believed in non-violence to the core and practiced it without waver as a strategy to bring about lasting social change. I can’t think of a single mass demonstration or march he led that was laced with violence. He was unapologetically intent on appealing to the moral conscience of America. A moral conscience that is best characterized in Dr. King’s words, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” It is in this example that we, as individuals, possess the moral compass to amass positive change within our households, our communities, our cities and states, within our nation and eventually across this globe.
I urge all of us to keep advocating peacefully for economic justice and equity, living wages for all, social equality, against voter suppression, for police and criminal justice reform, and for adequate funding of our public schools and minority serving colleges and universities. So long as we do these things in the manner that Dr. King—and other leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Mahatma Gandhi of India— showed us, our voices will be heard, and positive change will come to the world.
On this day, and the days ahead, l ask everyone to model your behavior like that of these great moral leaders, and like that which the late South African leader, Walter Sisulu, personally told me in 1990—he said, “when you dedicate your life to doing the right thing, there is never any room in your heart for violence and destruction.”
With highest reverence for Dr. King’s leadership, example, and enduring legacy, we carry the great baton of justice, liberty and freedom, and stride into a world that embraces our commonalities and celebrates our diversity.