Remarks offered during the all school assembly honoring of Dr. Martin Luther King

Today, January 15, is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King lived 39 years on this earth. If he were alive today, today would be his 90th birthday. Martin Luther King’s life was cut tragically short; but it is inspiring to think about all he did accomplish in his 39 years.

Without Dr. King we would not be where we are today. And the things that are meaningful to us here at our school – things like our Diversity Statement, our STAR code and festivals like the Season of Light – would not be thinkable without Dr. King’s work and sacrifice.

Our school diversity statement tells us that every day we must “Take up the work of recognizing and rectifying our own biases”. It was Dr. King who showed us that judging someone just because they belong to a particular group of people is wrong. Dr. King worked every day to think well of others and to see the light in every human heart.

The five points of our STAR code teach us to respect others, take responsibility, appreciate the good in others, be kind and celebrate diversity. Dr. King’s nonviolent protesting – which he learned from the great Mahatma Ghandi – teaches us how to make our point without harming others; we can see that love is more powerful than hate when we approach our life guided by the STAR code.

When I think of our holiday Season of Light festival with the lights of so many traditions shining in the auditorium, I am reminded of a prayer Dr King where he was the minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama on March 22, 1959. The prayer he recited went like this:

O God, our gracious Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the fact that you have inspired men and women in all nations and in all cultures. We call you different names: some call Thee Allah; some call you Elohim; some call you Jehovah; some call you Brahma; and some call you the Unmoved Mover; some call you the Archetectonic [sic] Good. But we know that these are all names for one and the same God, and we know you are one. And grant, O God, that we will follow Thee and become so committed to Thy way and Thy kingdom that we will be able to establish in our lives and in this world a brotherhood. We will be able to establish here a kingdom of understanding, where people will live together as brothers and sisters and respect the dignity and worth of all human personalities. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Dr. King taught that all spiritual traditions come from the same spiritual light that leads human beings toward the beautiful, the good and the true.

Today we celebrate the birthday of a great American warrior of the light – Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a warrior, but his weapon was not a sword or a gun or even harsh words; his weapon was love.

Today on his 90th birthday, Let us give Dr. King the best birthday present by following his example.

Let us be worthy to take up the sword of love. Let us overcome our biases, our laziness, our ignorance and our pride. Let us join together to overcome the hatred which can drive us apart. Let us join together and sing….. we shall overcome.