MLK Day a chance for reflection, commitment to progress
By Harold Gaines, president, Argonne African American ERG (AAA-ERG)
Every year on Martin Luther King Day, I can’t help but reflect on the continued power and relevance of Dr. King’s words and vision.
One Christmas Eve, he delivered a speech to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he once again championed nonviolence and meeting hate with love. Dr. King said:
“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate… Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you.
We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we’ll still love you.
But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.’”
Dr. King concluded his sermon by reiterating his dream — his belief that all people can live together in peace and understanding. Promoting understanding and cultural awareness is part of the AAA-ERG’s mission. Helping to create an inclusive work environment and fostering better understanding between diverse groups will not only help to create a better Argonne community, but what we have learned from each other we can take to the larger community beyond the laboratory’s gates to help make a better world.
On this Martin Luther King Day, I encourage all Argonne employees to be open to better understanding their coworkers and neighbors and working toward Dr. King’s dream. We can be encouraged in this by another speech Dr. King gave at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference:
“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrow. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As Dr. King so eloquently stated, the morality of the world we live in will be a long time coming, but we are gradually getting there. Let’s keep moving forward — together.
The complete text of Dr. King’s Christmas Eve sermon can be found here.
The complete text of Dr. King’s speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference can be found here.