Celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Leon Bibb reflects on the "conscience of America"

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 18:56:23-05

His speeches still resonate with me. For me, it seems like only yesterday I heard the voice on television and radio. Not just the speeches of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. which are in my memory. Also, those times of change are there. I am a child of the movement - having come of age in the civil rights movement. On this day of the anniversary of the birth of Dr. King, I am always especially deep in thought.

Martin Luther King was the conscience of America. He was admired and followed by millions of people pushing for equality of all people.

His words ring true. Even truer these days with a chief executive in the White House who has taken a racist approach to people of color. The Commander in Chief in the White House has said things that had any commander in the military said would drummed that person out of the U.S. Military. Would have drummed many an employee out of a job.

So the man in the White House has taken a step deep into the past into the dark history of this coutnry at a time when we celebrate another man who helped us out of those dark and bleak times. All of hwat we have heard in recent days from Mr. Trump ought to scare us all. King was against all of that kind of talk and action. It is the struggle between two principles - right and wrong.

Today, this nation in its national holiday, honors the memory of Martin Luther King. The movement continues today. Needed, because there are still voices of hate out there.

The other day I spoke with my good friend, Cleveland civil rights attorney Avery Friedman, about Martin Luther King. Avery Friedman reminded me the U.S. Fair Housing Act passed in 1968 forbidding racial discrimination in housing. The bill had been entangled in controversy and opposition. There were words of hate uttered. Fair housing bound for nowhere. But when doctor king ws murdered, the nation, the congress, the people were so pressed, it was passed in Congress within a few days. We live under fair housing right now.

But still, we are fighting for equality. And rights. We should be fighting against hate and racism, even when it spills from the mouth of a president who speaks what is apparently in his makeup. It is who he is.

We are at a crossroads in this country. Do we follow the peaceful words and teachings of a man whose memory we honor today, Martin Luther King? Or do we turn our heads to the distasteful, insulting and horrible words of a leader bathed in the bath of racism?

King was a man of peace. And of conscience who led millions who followed his lead in making America what it should. In this time when there are still voices of hate, Martin Luther King's words still ring true.

Martin Luther King helped hold a mirror to this nation so it could see what it was. In one hand, he held the mirror so the power structure, and the people of the nation, and the people of the rest of the world, could see America. In the other hand, he held the constitution. Today, the mirror and the constitution are still being held side-by-side. Let us turn away from hate, whether it comes from the White House in the nation's capital or a house in the neighborhood.

King was the conscience of America pushing for a better nation. We still pursue that ideal. For me, this federal holiday is one of deep reflection on what Martin Luther King and the movement was about. And what America should be about. Words and actions of hate - no matter whether they are spoken from the person next door or the person in the White House - have no place in our society.

I'm Leon Bibb.