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Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr
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Charles Krauthammer
August 26, 2011

"The new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington is a deeply moving and powerful monument."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

His greatness more evident now than ever

Stone of Hope

The great all-American can be claimed by not just liberalism but by conservatives as well

charles krauthammerIt is one of the enduring mysteries of American history - so near-providential as to give the most hardened atheist pause - that it should have produced, at every hinge point, great men who matched the moment. A roiling, revolutionary 18th-century British colony gives birth to the greatest cohort of political thinkers ever: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Jay. The crisis of the 19th century brings forth Lincoln; the 20th, FDR.

Equally miraculous is Martin Luther King Jr. Black America's righteous revolt against a century of post-emancipation oppression could have gone in many bitter and destructive directions. It did not. This was largely the work of one man's leadership, moral imagination and strategic genius. He turned his own deeply Christian belief that "unearned suffering is redemptive" into a creed of nonviolence that he carved into America's political consciousness. The result was not just racial liberation but national redemption.

Such an achievement, such a life, deserves a monument alongside the other miracles of our history - Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR - which is precisely where stands the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It officially opens Sunday on the Tidal Basin, adjacent to Roosevelt's seven acres, directly across from Jefferson's temple, and bisecting the invisible cartographic line connecting the memorials for Jefferson and Lincoln, authors of America's first two births of freedom, whose promises awaited fulfillment by King.

The new King memorial has its flaws, mostly notably its much-debated central element, the massive 30-foot stone carving of a standing, arms crossed, somewhat stern King. The criticism has centered on origins: The statue was made in China by a Chinese artist. The problem, however, is not ethnicity but sensibility. Lei Yixin, who receives a government stipend, has created 150 public monuments in the People's Republic, including several of Chairman Mao. It shows. The flat, rigid, socialist realist result does not do justice to the supremely nuanced, creative, humane soul of its subject.

The artistic deficiencies, however, are trumped by placement. You enter the memorial through a narrow passageway, emerging onto a breathtaking opening to the Tidal Basin, a tranquil tree-lined oasis with Jefferson at the far shore. Here stands King gazing across to the Promised Land - promised by that very same Jefferson - but whose shores King himself was never to reach. You are standing at America's Mount Nebo. You cannot but be deeply moved.

Behind the prophet, guarding him, is an arc of short quotations chiseled in granite. This is in keeping with that glorious feature of Washington's monumental core - the homage to words (rather than images of conquest and glory, as in so many other capitals), as befits a nation founded on an idea.

The choice of King quotations is not without problems, however. There are 14 quotes, but in no discernible order, chronological or thematic. None are taken from the "I Have a Dream" speech for understandable reasons of pedagogical redundancy. Nevertheless, some of the quotes are simply undistinguished, capturing none of the cadence and poetry of King's considerable canon.

More troubling, however, is the philosophical narrowness. The citations dwell almost exclusively on the universalist element of King's thought - exhortations, for example, that "our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective," and "every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole."

Transcending all forms of sectarianism to achieve a common humanity was, of course, a major element of King's thought.

But it was not the only one. Missing is any sense of King's Americanness. Indeed, the word America appears only once, and only in the context of stating his opposition to the Vietnam War. Yet as King himself insisted, his dream was "deeply rooted in the American dream." He consciously rooted civil rights in the American story, not just for tactical reasons of enlisting whites in the struggle but because he deeply believed that his movement, while fiercely adversarial, was quintessentially American, indeed, a profound vindication of the American creed.

And yet, however much one wishes for a more balanced representation of King's own creed, there is no denying the power of this memorial. You must experience it. In the heart of the nation's capital, King now literally takes his place in the American pantheon, the only non-president to be so honored. As of Aug. 28, 2011, there is no room for anyone more on the shores of the Tidal Basin. This is as it should be.

Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist and television commentator (e-mail:

He is known for his incisive analysis, and (like Ben Stein) his conservative views on economics (see Hamilton's genius)

Krauthammer chastises ridiculous Republicans (Congress and candidates) for handing Obama a victory : GOP is its own worst enemy

Krauthammer chastises Republicans for supporting racist Cliven Bundy. I (webmaster) say AMEN to Mr. Krauthammer. The Party of Lincoln was founded on the lofty idealism of Abolitionists. Hotbeds of this fervor spread across states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa. Tiny evangelical colleges like Oberlin and Berea and Hillsdale were centers for this idealistic wildfire, sweeping the North. I say Bravo to CK for reminding us.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin an Orthodox voice for many moral conservatives across America, articulates our nation's need to get back to the fundamentals. Our drift into liberalism has wrought harm, says the (somewhat right-wing) Rabbi, a strongly religious Jew.

Jonathan Bernis, a "Christian Rabbi" also calls for a return to values. He chides liberal Jews for their embrace of valueless modern culture. America has strayed from bedrock Torah morality. Yet Bernis lauds Jewish faithfulness to the Justice principles of the Hebrew prophets. Here's an all-American liberal "prophet" Cornel West

The webmaster (Robert) thinks this monument to King, paltry as it is, is LONG OVERDUE. My impression is that, like Lincoln, King's peace-making and healing have done not much less than save America from itself. But this monument does not especially impress me. It's a meagre gesture however tardy. Let's welcome it. At long last. (robt.shepherd - 3/23/2012)

the citadel
Hillsdale College's
Abolitionist Roots
The very first meeting of the Republican Party was in Michigan. Here is the scoop: On July 6, 1854, a convention of abolitionist men met "Under the Oaks" in Jackson in what has been widely accepted to be the first meeting of a new political party called the Republican Party, built on the principles of abolitionism, ending slavery completely in the United States. Jackson is only 30 miles north of Hillsdale College. see more.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a federal holiday marking the January 15 birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., which is celebrated nationally on the third Monday in January. Reagan was to say, in tribute to Dr. King:

"Abraham Lincoln freed the black man. In many ways, Dr. King freed the white man. How did he accomplish this tremendous feat? Where others -- white and black -- preached hatred, he taught the principles of love and nonviolence. We can be so thankful that Dr. King raised his mighty eloquence for love and hope rather than for hostility and bitterness. He took the tension he found in our nation, a tension of injustice, and channeled it for the good of America and all her people." [Ronald Reagan]

America's Godly Heritage

Ronald Reagan Hails the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr

Ronald Reagan and Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day signing ceremony
At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983

MLK Day signing ceremony

Never forget that this is America, the land where dreams come true.

Abraham Lincoln freed the black man. In many ways, Dr. King freed the white man. How did he accomplish this tremendous feat? Where others -- white and black -- preached hatred, he taught the principles of love and nonviolence. We can be so thankful that Dr. King raised his mighty eloquence for love and hope rather than for hostility and bitterness. He took the tension he found in our nation, a tension of injustice, and channeled it for the good of America and all her people.

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office). Only two other persons have national holidays in the United States honoring them: our "Cincinnatus," George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Christopher Columbus, the navigator, colonizer, and explorer from the Republic of Genoa, whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents.

Soon after, the King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history."

President Ronald Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, creating a federal holiday to honor King. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.

The bill established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission to oversee observance of the holiday, and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, was made a member of this commission for life by President George H. W. Bush in May 1989. Much as our presidents observe st Patrick's Day in NYC each March, tt has become a tradition for American Presidents to observe King's birthday at the Memorial in Atlanta every January since then, and every president has continued this tradition.

thanks wiki

Presidential Prayer Team

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Ten days earlier, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, author of the classic study The Prophets, introduced him to an assembly of rabbis: "Where in America today do we hear a voice like the voice of the prophets of Israel? Martin Luther King is a sign that God has not forsaken the United States of America. God has sent him to us. His presence is the hope of America. His mission is sacred, his leadership of supreme importance to every one of us. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a voice, a vision and a way. The whole future of America will depend on the impact and influence of Dr. King."

2 Chronicles 7:14

bob shepherd

Bob Shepherd writes:

I love this banner. To me, this is my Mount Rushmore (my other one).

Isn't it what history is all about? A spiritual dimension and a moral dimension. The content of our character. Anyway that's how it seems to me.

We love our Founders (and we should). But these moral giants are also our Founders. The Constitution is "secular" and "godless" but somehow there also has to be mercy and compassion and justice. (Don't call it socialistic. It truly is what it is all about.)

My wife (Linda) sent me this one. (a quote)

The hope is that one day - Black Men in America will no longer be viewed as
unintelligent, unattractive, undesirable, uncivilized and just plain old worthless.

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