MLK Day: The Fierce Urgency of Now

This post was originally published on (1/16/22) and updated on (1/15/23).

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Aside from inspiring the world to take action through his own work and words, Martin Luther King Jr. also often quoted other iconoclasts to punctuate his messages.

One such quote from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was especially prophetic and came during King’s 1968 appearance on the Mike Douglas Show. "Where there is darkness, crimes will be committed. The guilty one is not merely he who commits a crime but he who causes the darkness.” 

King went on to explain that sometimes those who commit acts of atrocity are mere byproducts of a darkness to which they have become unwittingly subjected. It seems King, more than 50 years later, is as prescient as anyone could have imagined. 

In ‘King: Man of Peace in a Time of War,’ his profundity is highlighted through never before seen speeches, TV interviews, and quiet moments of reflection. In all, they weave together yet another series of threads in a tapestry not nearly finished. 

“We live on one very small planet and the things that separate us as people are less important than the things that we share,” said Hugh Hefner. “I think we need to find those common connections and knock down those walls. And find ways to live together.”

In this rare documentary, King is joined by other disruptors including Hefner as well as Quincy Jones, Jesse Jackson, and Colin Powell who adds his own prescience, “It takes pressure, it takes marching, it takes demonstrating, it takes those forces that make democracy work. We should be very proud of what we are able to do. The danger is thinking it’s all done.” 

And the Rev. Jesse Jackson adds, "We won everything we fought for, but don't have what we need."

Indeed we are not finished. 

Says King, “We've come to a tragic period in our nation when we equate dissent with disloyalty. I believe firmly that it is necessary to have these moments of dissent in order to challenge something that may be leading the whole nation down the wrong path." 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more important now than ever because it serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality. Despite the progress that has been made in the years since Dr. King's death, there is still much work to be done to address inequities that persists in our society today. By remembering the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, we can be reminded of the urgency in continuing the work of creating a more just and equitable society for all.

Has much changed in the five tumultuous decades since King's words were first spoken to punctuate his own message of “militant nonviolence?” 

Well, his words of love must also resonate just as loudly. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

This doc certainly helps shine a beacon of hope and love in the right direction. And if not now, when?

Click here to watch King: Man of Peace in a Time of War.


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