On Monday, Jan. 15, people from across the U.S., including the newly-inaugurated governor of Virginia, celebrated what would have been the 89th birthday of the iconic civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with a variety of community-based projects, worship services and heart-felt testaments confirming their ongoing commitment to continuing his legacy in their own lives.
His youngest daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, also joined the tributes, stating in a tweet her prayer that “our global community, from educators to politicians to artists to law enforcement, will truly hear his voice, follow his teachings and demonstrate his love for humanity.”
While New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker celebrated the day — recently recognized by President Donald Trump as a federal holiday — by launching a podcast about justice with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), California Sen. Kamala Harris participated in an event that focused on Hollywood’s newly-launched anti-sexual harassment and assault initiative, “Time Up.” Harris also participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Los Angeles, serving as the grand marshal.
During an interview Monday on “The View,” Lewis, a King mentee and fellow civil rights leader, commented on the racial violence that occurred last year in Charlottesville and its impact.
“What happened then, made me very sad. I cried. I don’t want to go back, I want to go forward,” Lewis said. “I want it to continue to be part of an effort to make American one where we lay down the burden of race, the burden of hate and create one society and one people,” he continued, “because we live together in one house — the American House, the world house — where we must all learn to live together as brothers and sisters as Dr. King would put it, or perish as fools.”
Lewis, who stands in firm opposition to President Trump on many fronts, said the civil rights movement taught its supporters to withdraw from evil and that given his sentiments about the nation’s commander in chief, he says he still has doubts about the legitimacy of Trump’s victory.
The veteran congressman added that while King’s daughter said she felt her father would have been open to meeting with Trump, he disagrees.
“I knew her father very, very well,” he said. “I met him when I was 18 and working with him and getting to know him, I think he would have taken the same position I took [when Lewis refused to attend the opening late last year of the civil rights museum in Selma].”
He further asserted that had King still been alive, Trump would not have ascended to the presidency.
“Dr. King would have been able to lead us to a different place,” Lewis said. “Our country would be different and the world community would be different.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, on his first day on the job, chose to spend part of the afternoon last Monday at Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond where many prominent 19th- and 20th-century African Americans, including Maggie Walker, are buried.
Northam, accompanied by the cemetery’s owner and several community workers, bundled up for the cold weather to help rid the historic burial grounds of months — and in some cases, years — of overgrown brush and scattered debris.
“First of all, I wish everyone a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Northam said while walking through the 5,000-plot cemetery. “Dr. King spoke and taught us about the importance of unity and equality, and just to see everybody out here helping with the clean-up today, [reminds] us that we live in a diverse society where we’re all God’s people and that we need to be inclusive in Virginia so no one is singled out.”