As America enters a pivotal election year, faced with a decision that will determine nothing less than the future of our country, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day offers us a moment to stop and reflect on where we have come and how far we have strayed from our foundational values.
January 15, 2024, marks the 95th anniversary of the birth of my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, in 1963, stood upon the Lincoln Memorial steps and delivered his famed I Have a Dream speech—remarks that helped define the Civil Rights Movement and indeed the whole of the 20th century.
As MLK spoke that day, he reminded the masses that his dream was not set apart from America or our national story; instead, as a patriot, MLK’s dream was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” As patriots, it is all our duty to keep that dream alive.
In contrast, today, in 2024, Americans have seen the opposite of this dream come to life. Violent protestors have rioted and looted our cities and small businesses, which flies in the face of my uncle’s commitment to nonviolent protest. The current administration has focused on expanding abortions and taking away parental rights over children, opposing school choice, and even spying on communities of faith. Israel has come under violent attack and faces terrorism and hate in the most extreme form since the Holocaust, while the leaders of our major universities and academic institutions have refused to condemn these acts of brutal savagery against the Jewish people.
In my mind, these recent actions are the ultimate betrayal of my uncle’s legacy. Indeed, Rev. King taught civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to injustice in everything he did. He taught that “we must come together as brothers”—and here I will add “and as sisters”—so that we do not “perish together as fools.”
MLK also taught we are the one-blood human race, based on Scripture: “…and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…” Acts 17:26. I, too, believe that we are “one blood/one human race.” What’s most important is that we respond to each other’s concerns without violence, in unity and peace, so that we can affirm the fundamental truths that make our Nation the greatest on Earth.
In that spirit, my uncle always remained a man of peace who sought justice and preached unity, and he would be abhorred by the violence on our streets today.
My uncle also said once that our people “cannot win” if we are “willing to sacrifice [our] children for immediate personal comfort and safety.” He followed this sentiment with one of his most iconic lines: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
This strikes me as eerily similar to the debate we are having on abortion in America today. It also leads me to ask our country the following question: “How can the dream survive if we murder the children?”
Of course, we agree that a woman has a right to choose what she will do with her own body. However, the baby in her womb is not her body but an independent creation with the breath of life from God himself. Where is the choice for the baby?
As we ponder these truths, we must examine the spirit of error that has taken hold of our lawmakers, deceived our Nation’s people, and hoodwinked the entire world regarding the sanctity of life. This spirit of error tells us that a living, breathing, independent baby in her mother’s womb is not worthy of value or protection. It is this same spirit of error that tells us an unborn child is simply a “clump of cells” rather than a human being made in the image and likeness of God.
For far too long, our society has accepted the lie being pushed by the government, media, and education system that abortion is a proper remedy for women’s health issues, financial struggles, relationship woes, and even racial justice. But the reality is that the answer to these things is not allowing us to kill our children. Instead, the answer is in seeing God with our hearts. Therein lies the source of the “possible dream.”
So, this year, as we reflect on the 95th anniversary of my uncle’s life and legacy, let us pray that our efforts and examples in our interactions with one another will reflect God’s love for us all.
Let us embrace a time for repentance, forgiveness, revival, and jubilee. Imperfect vessels, though we are, we can all work together to bring an end to the evils we face in America today. By doing so, we may someday live in a country that Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed about—a Nation that cherishes all life from the womb to the tomb.
Dr. Alveda King serves as Chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for the American Dream.