Murphy: Remember Dr. King

Today could be a difficult one.

Yesterday would’ve been the 88th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. And today, we celebrate a holiday dedicated to his legacy.

But it would be easy to look at the news and let the day be ruled by fear, doubt, and worry.

Just last week, a man accused of racism and criticized by his own colleagues, Senator Jeff Sessions, began facing confirmation hearings for his appointment as our next attorney general. A white supremacist who murdered nine black men and women in a Charleston church said he would do it again. Donald Trump, who received the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan, will be sworn in as our next president on Friday — just a week after attacking civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis.

There still exists in our nation a base of people who opposed the creation of this holiday from the beginning — who still oppose it today. They want us to forget what it means.

But I remember.

I remember my parents talking to me about the passage of the Voting Rights Act when I was about eight years old. I remember how proud they were to live in a country where such progress was possible.

I remember how devastated they were when three of our family’s heroes, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were killed by extremists. And yet, I remember how they continued to believe, as Martin Luther King, Jr. did, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

And I keep their memories with me today as I proudly serve on the national board of the NAACP to continue the march for civil rights and justice for all.

As we remember Dr. King today, I can’t help but wonder what my parents would say about today’s society. I know they’d acknowledge the progress we’ve made, but I’m certain they’d demand more.

As President Barack Obama said in his farewell speech last week, “America is not a fragile thing, but the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”

The challenges we face today are great. But together, we can keep fighting. Together, we can continue bending the arc toward justice and equality for all Americans.

Thank you,

Phil Murphy