Even though Dr. King was a Baptist minister and his history-altering speeches about civil liberties are saturated with references to natural rights and profound theological constructs, all 14 quotes carefully etched into his stone monument completely eschew references to God.
What are some of the issues Dr. King would most likely talk about in January 2012? It is formidable and challenging, even for those of us who worked closely with him, to interpret his views today on current issues.
America must return to the vision of Dr. King, recognizing that our economic, political, and social systems are inter-dependent. We ultimately cannot prosper alone. Either we all prosper together, or we do not prosper at all.
I cannot help but to wonder, which King now stands enshrined on the mall? For our answer to this question speaks not only to who we consider ourselves to be as a nation, but also to who we have made Dr. King to be, and what we consider to be his enduring legacy.
It is most befitting that this great man who was never elected to office, used his voice to change America and make it live up to its written creed. King represents Black Americans on the mall, where in the buildings and halls of our national lawmakers there is little black representation.
Racism remains both a prevalent cultural attitude in some places, and a corrosive force stunting the potential of children and communities.
I doubt Dr. King would have attended his monument's commemoration ceremony, if he were alive today. I speculate that instead, he might have spent the week protesting on Wall Street, fighting for labor rights or battling the epidemic of mass incarceration.
Let's honor Dr. King by building a beloved community in America where all have enough to eat, a place to sleep, and enough work at decent wages to support a family, buy a home, and raise children in safe neighborhoods.
Dr. King would have been among the first to publicly support "Occupy Wall Street." He would not have waited to gauge public opinion as to whether it was "politically" right or appropriate to embrace and support its objectives.
The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial provides an opportunity to reflect and commit ourselves to Dr. King's work. Dr. King dreamed to end not just racial injustice, but the poverty that had allowed it to flourish. We need to make that dream a reality.
Does history prefer the "dreamer" Martin Luther King to the Dr. King who opposed war?
Memorials on the Mall (and elsewhere for that matter) have an at best imperfect track record on accuracy.
These conversations at the Table of Brotherhood symbolized the unity Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked for, and more important, a cross-cultural awakening and call to action to better the condition of the human race.
I am thrilled about the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. As I look at the official website, though, I find myself disappointed that the Chicago Freedom Movement isn't mentioned in the timeline of his life.
It is God in us who recognizes God in others, who makes us care about the lives and fates of others, who never stops trying to wash the word "others" from our renewal-needing, imperfectly transformed minds and points of view.
Martin Luther King was neither a president nor a war hero, but a humble preacher forced to live as an outsider in his own community. Yet, with his charismatic voice, visionary leadership, and indefatigable spirit, he symbolized what I believe is most central to our national character: hope.