As the nation marks another observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King holiday, much remains to be done in advancing King’s message of unity, tolerance and nonviolence.
This month includes the second inaugural ceremonies for America’s first black president — a development that might have even surprised King if he were still around. King’s death at the hands of an assassin in 1968 underscored the depths of racial hatred sweeping the country in those days. The United States as a whole is more tolerant today, more comfortable with its ethnic diversity. Diversity itself has become a more-vivid reality in this republic, with the population including more Americans of Asian and Hispanic ancestry. The election and re-election of Bobby Jindal, who is of East Indian descent, to serve as Louisiana’s governor are a testament to how much things have changed in this country since King’s day.
But racial and political disharmony and violence remain much too common in our country, as even the most-casual glance at the headlines reveals. We think that King would be most aggrieved, though, at the prevalence of black-on-black crime plaguing our inner cities, including troubled neighborhoods in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Homicides in which young black men kill other young black men make up most of the murder statistics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. That’s a terrible response to the message of love and peace that King preached.
A big new statue of King stands in Washington. But the best monument to King is an embrace of his desire to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”