Meridian Star


January 17, 2009

We honor and we apologize

"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."

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1956 sermon

Tomorrow, as the nation celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we also pause to remember those in East Mississippi who were integral in the American civil rights movement.

We pause to honor them through vowing to never forget their struggle, their passion, their persistence, their courage -- and what these human qualities have meant to our community. 

We pause to remember James Chaney, Obie Clark, Polly Heidelberg and others so important to the struggle for equality who are no longer with us. And to honor those who are still with us like Rev. Charles Johnson and State Rep. Charles Young.

We pause to remember so that we never go back; so that we always move forward for social justice and human rights.

We vow to be their voice. We vow to embody their passion. 

It is also important, and historically significant, that today marks the start of official inauguration events for Barack Obama,  the country’s 44th president and the first black person elected to that highest of political offices.

His swearing in Tuesday will, in a special way, fulfill the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Chaney, Obie Clark, Polly Heidelberg and the countless other front-line soldiers in the fight for civil rights across America.

The same as Americans put aside political ideology in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our soil on Sept. 11, 2001, to support President George W. Bush, we  should now respect and rally to the historical significance and symmetry of the civil rights movement and Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.

The civil rights pioneers of East Mississippi helped build the foundation of human values that made this milestone inauguration possible. So it is especially important that our communities come together at this moment.

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