King Today and King Tomorrow

January 16, 2012

It is a delicious irony of these United States that our most important prophet of real, substantive democracy should be named “King.”

And it is a troubling irony that today, piously celebrating his birthday, we should have so little substantive care for the three injustices against which he put the whole fiber of his being, in life and in death: racism, economic inequality and war.

Today is a very good day to re-read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  I am especially drawn to this line: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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2 Responses to King Today and King Tomorrow

  1. Bob says:

    Another irony is that while many people at Earlham College pride themselves on trying to foster these same beliefs against racism, inequality, and war that King held, the school does not give students his birthday off even though it is a federally recognized holiday in the U.S. and other colleges do give students the day off for his birthday.

    • Doug Bennett says:

      Less irony than it may appear. At Earlham, we observe Martin Luther King Day as “a day on, not a day off.” We even have buttons many of us wear that say that. Our goal is to spark as much consideration of King’s ideals and his non-violent approach to social change as possible. Thus, many classes have a King focus that day, and there are other events — at noon, in late afternoon, in the evening. We aim to have everyone on the Earlham campus that day spend some time considering King and his legacy. A day off, a holiday, would not have that effect. So we honor King with “a day on, not a day off,” to quicken our resolve and our focus.

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