Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King changed the course of history, we face another moment of crisis in this country.
We face the test of an openly racist President of the United States. A man whose latest ugly comments are a slap in the face of immigrants, African Americans, and every decent American who believes our diversity makes our country strong.
So what do we do now? How do we keep living up to the ideals of Dr. King – and how do we keep bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice?
This past summer – on the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – Dr. Bernice King and the King Center invited me to Atlanta to speak at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King asked me: “How do we do good to those who hate us? Because that’s where we are today. There’s a lot of hate in this society right now.”
She went on to say: “It’s very difficult to protest hate. The only thing that conquers hate is love.”
I told Dr. King that we must keep making our voices heard. Not in hate – but in strength and determination. Because the fights over discrimination, over voting rights, over criminal justice, over economic and environmental justice – these fights are not relics of history. We are in these fights right now, every single day.
As her father once said: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
Donald Trump’s America is an America of fear and hate. An America where we break apart. Whites against blacks and Latinos. Christians against Muslims and Jews. Straight against gay. Everyone against immigrants. Race, religion, heritage, gender – the more factions, the better.
Donald Trump plays a deceitful and ugly blame-game that says, whatever worries you, the answer is to blame that other group, and don’t put any energy into making real change.
We cannot be silent. We must see each other’s fights as our own. And when a racist bully calls white supremacists “very fine people,” and when he talks about “shithole” or “shithouse” countries in Africa, you better believe we must speak out, we must fight back, for justice, for opportunity, for equality for all.
Dr. King called on all of us to make the American dream a reality, and there is much work to be done. Access to voting. Economic and environmental justice. Ending violence. Prison reform. Health care. Education.
We must take on each of these battles. We must not remain silent.
Know this: we will resist; we will persist; and we will overcome.