And he probably would have been gearing up for an amazing 2013 when the nation will mark 50 years since the historic March on Washington and 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation ended legalized slavery in the United States.
On a personal note, I was eight years old when Congress established the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday in January.
And this year, my son, at eight years old, is visiting the newly completed Dr. King memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
As difficult as it is to talk to children about the harsh realities of our history and about the challenges to equality in our current cultural and economic climate, the Dr. King memorial is a great opportunity to bring these issues to life.
It’s a chance to talk about how precious freedom is, what it means, and why we must be constantly on guard to protect it.
It’s a chance to instill in our children the importance of following their conscience and not the dictates of what society tells us is true or acceptable.
And it’s a chance to remind them of their own inherent self-worth and responsibility to live lives of courage and compassion.
The monument includes quotations from Dr. King’s speeches, including his 1964 speech in Norway upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. You can read the speech in its entirety here.
Dr. King was only 35 when he received the Nobel – the youngest person ever to receive the award – and he donated the entire amount (about $56,000) to the Civil Rights Movement.
To read Dr. King’s biography on the Nobel website, click here.