COMMENTARY: King - a dream to unify

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By Michael Warren

In these days of intense rancor and hyper-partisanship, we often forget what unites Americans and how far we have come in becoming a closer nation. Sometimes we forget that just a few decades ago, it took a civil rights struggle of monumental proportions to enable African Americans to achieve legal recognition of their political and civil rights. Very few today assert that segregated housing or public accommodations are appropriate. Thankfully there is no credible debate that one's ability to assemble, speak and vote should depend on the color of one's skin. We all agree that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness and an world class education.

The birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. is worth serious celebration by all Americans. As an African American born on January 15, 1929, one would have been hard pressed to believe at the time that a national holiday would exist in his honor. As a pacifist who embraced nonviolent protest, he mobilized a national citizens' volunteer army to achieve his revolutionary objectives. His I Have a Dream and other speeches inspired the nation to do great things. He led a movement to challenge deep-seated racial prejudice and hatred. Ultimately, he was assassinated for the ideals he believed.

Like the Founding Fathers and other great patriots who have succeeded them, King was inspired by, and articulated as his primary motivating force, the Declaration of Independence. That Declaration like no other articulates our nation's binding beliefs: revolution, unalienable rights, the rule of law, the Social Compact, equality, unalienable rights, and limited government. This is what unites us. This is what defines us. Just as the founders and others had done before him, he harkened to all of those principles in his quest for racial justice.

King's combination of inspirational rhetoric combined with organized action is the finest example of civil rights activism in American history. His leadership is a shining example for all Americans regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, or heritage. King's courage and perseverance are traits that are sorely lacking in today's environment.

King's legacy should not be relegated to a single day in the year. That's why my then 10 year old daughter Leah and I included him as a vital part of Patriot Week. Patriot Week renews America's spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Anchored by the key dates of September 11 (the anniversary of the terrorists attacks) and September 17 (Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution), the schedule for each day has a separate focus. King is commemorated in connection with his tremendous contribution regarding the First Principle of racial equality. We also honor King outside of 9/11-9/17 by organizing school activities in Detroit during Black History Month.

King laid down his life nearly 50 years ago. Our generation has a responsibility to ensure that his dream stays alive today and tomorrow.

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Michael Warren is an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge and co-founder, with his daughter Leah, of Patriot Week (www.patriotweek.org). He is also the author of America's Survival Guide (www.AmericasSurvivalGuide.com) and a former member of the State Board of Education.

Published: Fri, Jan 22, 2016

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