Monday, January 16, 2012

A Day On, Not A Day Off

Today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we hear from Robby Gregg, PFLAG's Associate Director of Equality & Diversity Partnerships.

As a Black male, when I think about the holiday honoring Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. there's a part of me that pauses in reflection. Dr. King’s legacy lives in each of us, if we choose to realize it.

Dr. King dedicated his life to nonviolent change and peaceful demonstration, but his commitment to equity for all is what's most enduring for me.  I think about a conversation I had with one of my mentor-friends, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, a well-known academician and director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art. Dr. Cole was a confidant of Mrs. Coretta Scott King.  I have spoken with her many times about Mrs. King's leadership in the fight for the equality of all people - inclusive of the LGBT community. Through those talks, I've learned that Mrs. King felt that as a Black woman, she, too, knew what it felt like to have the hand of injustice played against you simply because of your status.

And, what of the similarities between the struggle of Blacks and the LGBT community? Indeed, we need not pause on our differences, but instead celebrate the unity among us.

Mrs. King once said,  

“Wherever you go in your lives and whatever you do, I urge you to hold up the values of dignity, respect, and goodwill for all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age, physical or mental disability.  Never let bigotry go unchallenged.  Always speak out against prejudice and discrimination whenever it emerges.  Make your voice, your deeds, and indeed, your life, a force that affirms sisterhood and brotherhood among all people.  If you can make this simple commitment, your life will grow in meaning, purpose, and nobility and America will grow in greatness.”

Today, I am grateful; grateful for the opportunity to stand up and serve and to attempt to make a difference in the lives of others.  My request of you is to join me. Don’t look at the holiday as a day off, but rather a day on—a day to remember how simple actions, simple deeds, and simple words, can make a huge difference.  

Dr. King said, “We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”  Let’s live together as brothers and sisters and make a commitment to standing up, not sitting down!

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