On MLK Day, the NAACP and ADL link arms

It’s not an MLK Day to take for granted, is it?

Among all the memes and quotes of this holiday, I like best the one put forth from Dan Rather’s bold new venture News and Guts: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I’ve been to Snopes and learned this oft-cited saying takes some liberties with what King actually said, in Selma, Alabama, after Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right,” King said. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

Either way, it’s a poignant reminder. I confess that in some years — probably most years — I haven’t put much thought into the holiday beyond that it’s an extra day off, at a time when many of us have the space and comfort to whine about struggling to shake off a post-holiday malaise. My recent years in D.C. knocked some sense into me, because many of my friends there took the notion of a national day of service seriously. We painted schools and bagged groceries for neighbors in need. But in married life, in a region where it’s easy to feel rootless and lost in your own feelings of economic insecurity, I know I still need to make new habits of volunteerism.

We no longer have the privilege of presuming that MLK Day is mostly about history. So for today’s sign of hope, I want to recognize the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League for promising to build a “coalition of now.”

In the Washington Post, Cornell Williams Brooks (president of the NAACP) and Jonathan Greeblatt (the ADL’s CEO), wrote as follows:

“Now more than ever, there is no ‘us vs. them.’ We are all black. We are all Jews. We are all Muslims. We are all women. We are all immigrants. We are all LGBT. And when the rights of one of us are threatened, all of us are threatened.”

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Flickr/ehpien

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