Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King's Legacy to Us All

Nearly 40 years after his assassination, academics, pundits and other observers continue to debate and examine the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I attended the "Embracing the Radical King: Prophetic or Passé?" forum sponsored by WNYC and the Civic Forum at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday. I walked away with a clear understanding the late civil rights leader would have certainly included LGBT people in his broader vision to secure equality for everyone. I also concluded this legacy is desperately needed in this divided world which so often lacks basic compassion and human dignity.

My own life contains examples of this indignity. My grandmother, for example, refuses to acknowledge her great-grandson because her granddaughter, my cousin, had him out of wedlock with a black man. She considers herself an adherent Catholic but
has no problem telling her granddaughter that her newborn son is not welcome inside her home. This appalling rejection is an affront to the love and compassion Dr. King and others spread through their faith.

Another example remains a born-again Christian friend who routinely asks me how it feels to live a so-called alternative lifestyle. He's in prison for 10 to 20 years so perhaps he has a lot of time on his hands to think about these theological questions but I can't help but think that Dr. King would not approve of the way people who claim to be good, virtuous people of faith subjugate those who choose not to subscribe to their narrow ideologies.

As a white gay man born and raised in New Hampshire, some may ponder how Dr. King's legacy impacts my life. But as a white gay man born and raised in the Granite State, his legacy provides a path upon which anyone who believes in true compassion, equality and human dignity should follow. This message transcends race, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural and faith backgrounds. It even includes my grandmother who continues to deny her bi-racial great-grandson and my born-again Christian friend who uses his new found faith to question my sexual orientation.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Well said Michael. You are a man of compassion and most spiritual great minds seem to be: whether Buddhist, Christian or Muslim.
It seems to be simply a test of ones character: can you love, accept, forgive etc one who you may not :understand, acknowledge, relate to, or even love??