Monday is proof of some change

Published 6:00 am Sunday, January 14, 2007

Forty-five years ago our nation was not only in a different time and era, but it was truly a different place.

In 1961, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began wiretapping the communications of a southern black preacher from Alabama.

The man of God was viewed as a threat to national security for fear that communists might become involved in the Civil Rights Movement, of which the preacher was an emerging national leader.

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Now, as we look back on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that notion seems ludicrous.

He wasn’t a man to be feared, but to be revered for the message he brought to the world. King’s non-violent, civil disobedience work aimed at changing the country’s stance on the rights of its citizens, regardless of race or creed.

Eventually, some key tenets of King’s work became law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Soon, King and others quickly learned that having the laws and enforcing those laws are two vastly different things.

But King’s work was a huge step in getting the nation focused on righting more than a century of wrongs.

Today, the memory of the man the government distrusted is celebrated with a national holiday on Monday.

The holiday is a tiny bit of proof that the world has changed through King’s life and untimely death at the hand of an assassin.

But much work remains.

King devoted his life to raising awareness of our country’s flaws. If we all devoted a fraction of our lives for the same cause, think of what a difference we could make and think of how proud King would be of his legacy.