Remembering the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King

By Mike Parks. Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1/15/29 – 4/4/68) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.  A truly gifted and inspirational orator, one of his lasting legacies is the moving quotes attributed to him, including one that I’m sure resonates with all of us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  Fitting for any Red Crosser!

Mike Parks

As we’ve all seen, we’re living in turbulent times.  Around the country the Red Cross is preparing to support those impacted by potential unrest.  Two of Dr. King’s most important tenets were, “ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”    Yes, Dr. King fully supported and participated in many peaceful protests.  Our sincere hope is those who choose to protest over the next few days live by one of Dr. King’s other key principles, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon.  Indeed it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and enables the man who wields it.”

As I think about our service in the Red Cross and some of the things Reverend King said in his life, which was cut tragically short, I reminded of his comment, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”  You’ve heard me say many times, the Red Cross, in a word, is all about “caring.”  In my mind, our form of caring is also a form of love, as we show compassion to those we serve, as we bring light to the darkness they may be feeling at their most vulnerable.  Thank you for caring!

Finally, one of my personal favorite quotes from Dr. King are words he spoke 55 years ago right here in Ohio at the Oberlin College Commencement speech in 1965, “The time is always right to what is right!”

Thanks again for all you do.  Please stay safe and well, always remembering to practice C-D-C (cover-distance-clean)!!  Best regards…Mike

Editor’s note: Resolve to volunteer in honor of MLK Day of Service. Learn more about ways in which you can help others here.

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