This year, the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy promises to be different. Sure, there will be the obligatory memorials in your local paper, maybe a few television specials to recognize the heroism of the civil rights movement. But this year, more than most, political action will take the place of puppetry.
In theaters across the country, Ava DuVernay’s portrayal of King’s leadership in the 1965 protests for racial integration in Selma, Ala., is earning rave reviews (though not nearly enough recognition at the Oscars). That, on its own, is meaningful.
But what truly makes this year’s MLK Day unique are the political actions happening across the country to reclaim his political legacy. Closely aligned with burgeoning movements like #BlackLivesMatter, dozens of protestors will gather in cities and towns across the country to reiterate King’s call for the recognition of black people’s basic human rights.
There’s no better time than now to revisit King’s words as both inspiration and as a factual accounting of his political might.