On the occasion of Martin Luther King Day in the United States, the chairman of the World Jewish Congress United States, Rabbi Marc Schneier, addressed several functions across the country on the issue of civil rights and Martin Luther King’s legacy.
Together with King’s son and Rev. Al Sharpton, Schneier spoke at the National Annual King Day Breakfast in Washington. In an opinion piece co-authored by hip-hop star Russell Simmons, Schneier emphasized that King’s legacy should not be reduced to race.
“Dr. King was an African-American leader of unparalleled import – but he was also a leader of all people, a giant whose life and thought continues to guide and inspire nations around the globe. In terms of civil rights, King was color-blind, championing human rights for everyone, everywhere. His empathy and outspokenness showed the bravery and firmness of his conscience and the reality of his dream.”
For example, little has been told about King’s support for issues that almost exclusively concerned the Jewish community, such as easing discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union and the safety and security of the State of Israel. He also spoke out against anti-Semitism in the United States, especially when the virus erupted in the African-American community.
“Dr. King recognized that a people who fight for their own rights are only as honorable as when they fight for the rights of all people. This, then, is his legacy. To narrow Barack Obama’s achievements to the color of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is to entirely miss the point. Obama’s connection to King is not the product of his race; rather it is a result of his embracing Dr. King’s legacy.”
Today, Barack Obama will be sworn in as 44th president of the United States of America. Barack Obama takes oath of office before Americans who gathered in Washington in record numbers for the inauguration, braving midwinter cold and heavy security to witness an event – the swearing-in of the nation’s first African American president – that for many marked a dramatic break with the past and the dawn of a new sense of possibility.
For complete coverage of The Inauguration Day, visit The Wall Street Journal.