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Remembering Martin Luther King

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

The late U.S. civil rights leader and Nobel peace prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." On January 17th, the U.S. observes a national holiday in Dr. King's honor.

Americans recognize "the lasting truth" of Martin Luther King's words, says President George W. Bush, and renew their commitment "to the principles of justice, equality, opportunity, and optimism that Dr. King espoused and exemplified."

Dr. King, a Baptist minister, was one of the world's best-known advocates of non-violent social change. Applying the principle of nonviolence to the civil rights movement in the U.S., Martin Luther King preached racial equality at a time when black Americans were still victims of segregation and discrimination. During the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties, he traveled across the U.S. and around the world.

Martin Luther King's message of tolerance brought about enormous change in the U.S. One of his most memorable speeches was delivered in the summer of 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

Martin Luther King appealed not to resentment but to reason, not to anger but to conscience. In 1968, he was slain by an assassin. He was thirty-nine years old.

During his life, Martin Luther King dreamed of an America where citizens would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. He dreamed of an America where all citizens would enjoy the riches of freedom and the security of justice. "There is still work to be done," says President Bush. But, "in renewing Dr. King's vision and life of service, we renew our commitment to guaranteeing the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."