Monday, January 16, 2012

Walking and Singing With Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King joining The March Against Fear, 1966

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.
     - Martin Luther King, Strength to Love

In celebration of this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, a "national day on," we will offer some material throughout the day to help consider the legacy of MLK and his enduring message for all Americans.

Even beyond the powerful social change created through the efforts such as The March Against Fear, which crossed the length of rural Mississippi, there's a profound metaphor at work, as these brave Americans pushed at regional, rural, and urban boundaries - and linked communities across the country through a shared belief in human dignity.

And the annual commemorations on this day remind us that there's much more work to be done. Here's John Lewis and Harris Wofford, some of the congressional leaders responsible for officially transforming MLK Day from a holiday to a day of service. Please follow this link to find opportunities to volunteer:

• Smithsonian Folkways' Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966 contains many songs that may have been heard by Dr. King and his fellow marchers on that day in rural Mississippi when the photograph above was taken. Here's one selection from that recording: "Lord Hold My Hand While I Run This Race:"

• Here's a powerful link between John Coltrane (born in Hamlet, North Carolina), Dr. King, and the lives of four girls lost in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963: