Abdul-Jabbar: Remembering MLK Is Not Enough

The existence of a holiday doesn't mean the battle is over
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2015 12:40 PM CST
Abdul-Jabbar: Remembering MLK Is Not Enough
In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/File)

At a time when racial tensions are in the spotlight in America, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is among those reflecting on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Today isn't just a day to remember him, Abdul-Jabbar writes in Time: It's a day to honor him by continuing his work. Of course, there are many who oppose King's efforts, but "his legacy may be in more danger from those who admire him," Abdul-Jabbar notes. It's too easy to allow the existence of MLK Day to suggest that somehow, the fight against racism has been won. But "just because some of the symptoms of racism are clearing up, you don’t stop taking the medicine or the malady returns even stronger than before."

King would be glad to see white and black protesters supporting Michael Brown and Eric Garner. One thing he wouldn't want, however, is to see us resorting to violence in the protests. "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend," King said, as Abdul-Jabbar points out. "His goal was to cleanse the community, not to cleave it." In the New York Times, Chris Lebron echoes Abdul-Jabbar: "Martin Luther King Jr. Day is taken to represent a triumph," Lebron writes. "But here is an uncomfortable truth: It is a triumph of acceptable minimums rather than full respect for those who continue to wait for Dr. King’s dream to become reality." Elsewhere, Time offers opinions from a number of thinkers on how to talk to your kids about Martin Luther King; Syracuse.com highlights some of his most enduring speeches; and NPR looks at King from the perspective of today's children. (Read more Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stories.)

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