published Monday, January 20th, 2014

Smith: A day-to-remember: Dr. King's life continues

Today, Americans are observing the national holiday honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King's efforts were directed toward establishing opportunity for all, regardless of skin color, economic status or any threads of American individuality.

Back in 2007, on a cold, January day, I stood in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel where the human existence of Dr. King was ended at age 39 by a man full of hate and evil.

Walking through the National Civil Rights Museum adjacent to the two-story motel where the pastor was murdered, I saw photos and exhibits capturing the divisiveness, the deception and the hatred that was characteristic of segregation.

A plaque affixed to the rail outside Room 306 where Dr. King was assassinated read, "And they said one to another, behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him ... and we shall see what will become of his dreams" from Genesis 37:20, referencing the jealous brothers of Joseph who made an attempt to end his life in order to mock his dreams.

This April 4 will mark the 46th anniversary of Dr. King's death. If he were alive today, Dr. King would be 85 years young.

But the life of Dr. King lives on.

Sadly, our focus today is consumed with partisan politics that are more geared toward the power that a majority brings than in solving problems and honoring American citizens. Our thoughts are steered toward obtaining material possessions that supposedly demonstrate our status and economic prowess. Our activities are daily directed in a path that puts us with individuals who mirror our politics, our faith, our economic standing, just to name a few.

But the impactful life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and its influence echo throughout the halls of legislative corridors, throughout schools and corporations.

The opportunity in this nation is truly equal, with exceptions that are either self-imposed or due to some crippling aspect of physical or mental health.

We're all given 24 hours of a day. We're all given a free will with choices. These choices include:

Will I rise today and work harder than yesterday?

Will I be truthful and honest in all I say and do?

Will I treat others, including strangers, in the way I desire to be treated?

Will I make the use of my 24-hour day to learn something new?

Will I speak truth, even as a lone voice?

Will I turn from that which is indecent, dishonest and selfish?

I've always had a belief in the Judeo-Christian God who wants the very best for me but leaves the choices up to me, in most cases. By my actions, by my choices, by that which I read, listen to, and watch, the friends who influence my life and the manner in which I use my time, I use the resources available to me to determine my path.

Dr. King's dream of a path that is open to all and that his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" exists today.

Now, the tough question has to be asked: Based on the answers to the questions above and your daily actions, what's the content of your character?

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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Facts said...

The reason the answer to the question of opportunity will always revolve around the color of skin is simple. Your character is yours to create and have as your personal responsibility. Being judge by the content of your character shifts the view to the individual. The left will never embrace that.Ever.

January 20, 2014 at 3:25 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

Dr. King was born on Jan. 15th actually. Now we celebrate the third Monday of every January. I really don't understand what's wrong with celebrating it on the day he was actually born, but the government doesn't have a good sound reason for everything it does. So this year the third Monday fell on MY birthday. Jan. 20th 1952. Now I'm 62 and I still haven't seen what Dr. King started get very much further than it had gotten on April the 4th, 1968 when an insane redneck ended his life. The rest of my birthday was very good, but not that part.

January 21, 2014 at 11:15 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

It's interesting to see how Mrs. Bennett and in fact most conservatives today tend to speak so glowingly of Dr. King, when in fact he was an extremely liberal activist who, if he were alive today and doing and saying the same things he was doing and saying back in the 60s, would no doubt be branded an outright communist or even a terrorist by these same conservatives who are so easy with the praise for him now. They have reduced him to a cartoonish caricature of himself, focusing only on his "content of one's character" quote, as if he were just a nice but charismatic man who believed in racial equality and nothing more. And who today could rightfully speak against racial equality?

But conservatives and libertarians, in their espousal of what they like to think of as "individual freedom," have construed his words to relate to their own twisted notion of individual freedom without regard to the necessity of some drastic changes to our political and economic structures that are enslaving the poor and the disadvantaged and grossly favoring the rich and the greedy corporatists. We cannot have true individual freedom until we wrest power from the corporatists and the super-rich and the politicians who have been bought by them and are doing their bidding. Dr. King knew how corrupt the system was back then, and it has only become more corrupt today, exponentially so.

Mrs. Smith, Dr. King was just as much an advocate for economic equality as he was for racial equality. How come you conservatives never speak about that? He did not look upon the poor as "moochers and takers," as you like to call them today, but he saw a dignity in them that was worth fighting for. He was very much PRO-labor unions and he called for a substantial increase in the minimum wage as a means to pull people out of poverty and enable them to share in the American Dream. He knew that true individual freedom started by providing those at the bottom with a base to build upon. Nobody can begin the climb up a ladder unless they have the first rung to stand on, nor can they pull themselves up by their boot straps unless they have a pair of boots in the first place.

Did you ever notice that it has always been liberals, with their radical thinking, who have changed the world? I would like to point out that NO conservative with his/her wish to cling to the status quo, has ever brought about meaningful change of any kind. By their very nature, conservatives are fearful of change. They always resist it and try to portray liberals as evil or immature or as malcontents. But decades or centuries after those liberal-minded thinkers have had the rightness of their thinking validated and established in everyday society, those conservatives are gushing with praise for their heroism and in fact like to embrace them as their own. Funny how it works that way.

January 22, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Another thing, Mrs. Bennett: Dr. King was unabashedly opposed to the Vietnam war. He even referred to it as an atrocity of genocide committed by our American empire. The typical conservative stance today is to label all who fought in the Vietnam war as heroes and brand all who opposed it and protested against it as traitors and cowards. Does Dr. King still rate hero status in your mind? It’s time that you conservatives start looking at him as the real man that he was, not the homogenized one-dimensional figure that you make him out to be, just so that he might fit in with your rigid conservative view of the world.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." - MLK

January 22, 2014 at 1:03 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Oops...I called her Mrs. Bennett (twice!). Not sure where that came from. No way could she be mistaken for our liberal cartoonist. My bad. I meant Mrs. Smith, of course.

January 22, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.
Ki said...

The hypocrisy of these people now loving on and singing the high praises is the ultimate of hypcrisy. They'd eat Dr. King alive today, the same as they did in his lifetime.

Rickaroo you're so on point. Dr. King called war (Vietnam at the time) one of the triple evils. The other two being racism, and economic exploitation. He said the three were interrelated.

Dr. King would be gunned down approximately a week before he was able to carry out his poor man's march on Washington. However in a speech at a church prior Dr. King had this to say on Capitalism:

"Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher antithesis that combines the truth of both. Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means utlimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated."

Dr. King was a radical advocate of economic justice. In fact, throughout much of his lifetime, Dr. King was referred to as radical, troublemaker and rabble rouser by people with same attitutdes as the writer of this piece. So if they're claiming to embrace Dr. King today they have something up their sleeve. They've found a way to use him to their advantage.

January 23, 2014 at 7:16 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Good comment, Ki. And a great quote from Dr. King.

January 23, 2014 at 7:05 p.m.
Ki said...

Thanks Rickaroo. I'll have to make a minor correction in quoting Dr. King's speech, however. excerpt: Should have read: "but in a higher synthesis (not antithesis) that combines the truth of both."

January 24, 2014 at 3:29 p.m.
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