“Born 88 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the greatest moral voice of the 20th century. Through his words and by his example he spoke to the hearts of millions of Americans and citizens of the world. He demonstrated to all of us that non-violent action has the power to transform a people, an entire nation and a world community. He showed us that love in action has the power to overcome hatred and oppression. His ‘dream’ involved more than one historic speech on the National Mall. He was working to build what he called the Beloved Community — a society based on simple justice that values the dignity and the worth of every human being.
“As we face the rising tide of hate and violent aggression in the early days of the 21st century, it is clear we still have a great deal of work to do to manifest his vision of true peace. So many of the hostilities we confront today remind me too much of 50 years ago. What we had then that we are missing today is the moral arguments of Dr. King that helped us contemplate the state of our society and gave us the courage to take action against injustice.
“As you move through the King holiday weekend no matter how you have decided do to serve others, whether you feed the homeless, read a book to young children, share music with the elderly or assist the sick or disabled, I encourage you also to spend some time reading Dr. King’s words. They can help illuminate the darkness of our time.
“He said, ‘ Violence as a way of achieving… justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.’
“He said, ‘…Cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And…expedience … asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.’
“He said, ‘Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.'”