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

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

January 20th, 2014 in Opinion Columns

Robin Smith

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

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.