So much has happened since January 2020 and the Martin Luther King holiday.  Evelyn Uddin-Khan reminds us that “the trail of words he (MLK) left behind can be the wake-up call we all have been waiting for.” May we temper peacemaking with activism as we honor, support, and build upon our democratic values in today’s United States.    

As we in Salisbury celebrated the incomparable Martin Luther King Jr., it is a good time to remember that King lost his life for what he believed in.

A holiday in his honor, to mark a life lived fighting for the rights of all people, must not be forgotten.

King lived and preached what the Holy Bible taught him. He believed in a God that created all of us equal. Perhaps the definition of “equal” has changed over time, but not for King and not for the poor and destitute.

King preached a sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct” two months before he was assassinated. One of the themes of that sermon was the Vietnam War. That war is long past, but the warning in that sermon is still very relevant today.

He said, “God has a way of even putting nations in their place. The God that I worship has a way of saying, ‘Don’t play with me.’ He has a way of saying, as the God of the Old Testament used to say to the Hebrews, ‘Don’t play with me, Israel. Don’t play with me, Babylon. Be still and know that I am, God. And if you don’t stop your reckless course, I’ll rise up and break the back bone of your power.’ And that can happen to America.” 

Could Dr. King’s words be far from wrong? Today, we as a nation are so divided by race and religion that we have lost sight of who we are.

If this is a Christian nation, which Bible do we believe in? The Old Testament? The New Testament? Or have we written our own version of an intolerant Bible and practice what we feel like practicing? God is not going to be pleased with us tampering with his guidance and instructions on how to live.

On our present racially divided course, we are heading to a time and place where we may not want to be — and unable to turn around.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is perhaps one of the most divided national holidays in this country. From its inception, there were those who chose not to take the day off. Schools were closed. Federal and state government offices were closed, but wherever some people had a choice they chose to work and defer the day. Is it racism or an overload of work?

As I put these thoughts on paper, I know a few people who choose work instead of celebrating the day that honors a great African-American. Why is that? Racism is perhaps in some of our bones. Could that be why? Race is simply skin color? Isn’t it? So why are some colors superior to others?

King was a devout Christian who preached and practiced the words of God, understood the term “equality,” and prayed for tolerance, unity and acceptance of all people, by all people.

The great man fought for a dream. He would be disappointed to know that today, 54 years later, Jews, Muslims, Asians, South and Central Americans also are all still fighting for the dream to materialize.

If King was a white man, would his messages have changed American thinking, and would belief in “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” have made a difference?

Call me a skeptic, but with our country so divided today, so intolerant of brown and Black and so suspicious of people of other faiths, it is difficult to believe that Dr. King’s dreams will be realized any time soon.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a visionary. So far, no one has emerged to step into his shoes. But we don’t need anyone. What we need is for we the people, of all colors, races, ethnic origins and religions to spend a little time pondering his words, and then practice some of what he preached.

The trail of words he left behind can be the wake-up call we all have been waiting for.

Evelyn Uddin-Khan