MLK Jr's Legacy

Notes from Democratic Party Chair, Mark Fraley on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 2016 elections.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama noted that we are living in an era of “extraordinary change”. He called upon us to make “change work for us” by “expanding America’s progress” to more and more people.  He cautioned against the dazzling deceptions of those who “promise to restore our past glory” by marginalizing groups they see as threatening.

The President echoed a sentiment that 55 years ago found expression in the voice of a young preacher from Georgia, who said that “through our scientific genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development we must make it a brotherhood."

While no politician or political party can claim heir to Dr. King’s legacy, it is instructive look at the actions and codes of conduct of our political leaders in measuring our progress toward fulfilling his vision of brotherhood (and sisterhood).

Despite the inspiring example of a Baptist minister who summoned his religious faith in an effort to expand equality for all, we have a Governor who continues to use that religious faith as a tool to deny equal rights to many.

In contrast to the powerful orator who invited us to share in his dream where people of different backgrounds can “sit down together at the table of brotherhood," cynical politicians and sinister pundits tell a new generation of DREAMers that their national origin bars them from a seat at that table.

In callous disregard of the lessons of a leader who made common cause with Muslims in an effort to inspire hope, The GOP Presidential front runner slanders their faith in an attempt to arouse fear.

This election year will be a profound test of our ability to respond constructively to the “extraordinary changes” we face as a community and as a nation.  In a media culture and political environment that rewards those who are unreservedly angry and unabashedly exclusionary, we have a special obligation to channel our compassion and to locate our humanity; to advance Dr King’s message of brotherhood, for “we must learn to live with one another as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools."

Mark Fraley,  
Monroe County Democratic Party Chair