By the Rev. Tyler C. Millner,
Morning Star Holy Church
The 2021 Celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in Martinsville and Henry County was tremendous, with activities intentionally designed to focus on citizens picking up the torch and committing to work cooperatively to fulfill the dream.
Given what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, there is the temptation to fight back and meet violence with more violence. In all quarters and with each presenter, the message King profoundly taught and demonstrated was that we are to protest, but always through nonviolence.
A concerted effort was made to let King’s words be heard. Words such as, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear;” “The time is always right to do what is right;” “Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis, the end is preexistent in the mean;” “For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong.”
A message from the King celebration to the community is that we are to embrace nonviolence, both with social change and to impress upon our government the change required to have a just and equitable society.
A second message is this: Citizens are encouraged to read the Constitution, both to have a refreshed knowledge of our form of government and to know what happened in Washington a couple weeks was un-American. Such action is a crime and detriment to our democratic way of life.
It would be to our advantage, as concerned and active citizens, to subscribe to the ethics and morals exemplified by Dr. King: Nonviolence, love instead of hate, and do what is right.
Another emphasis is that of engagement, getting involved and contributing to building the beloved community.
Again, the words of Dr. King should be a guide: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Two other key points are be truthful and always be guided by truth – not falsehoods or a fake narrative.
A final point to emphasize is all the things that need to be done with a range of options and diversity of roles.
“Each person can serve.” Again, hear the words of Dr. King, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”