We Shall Overcome

weshall.jpgWe Shall Overcome: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lives On

Dear Friend,
         Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
          Dr. King's influence extended beyond Alabama to the world and continues to this day. 
          Many people saw Dr. King's works as being for civil rights but Dr. King's works were more than civil rights.  He in fact saw himself as a human rights advocate.
          In his letter from Birmingham jail in 1963, he famously wrote:
          "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affect all indirectly.  Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea."
         He further wrote, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
         In that same letter, Dr. King put forth the moral argument for non-violent civil disobedience as a necessary means for effecting social and political change and against unjust laws. 
   weshall2.jpg      He had said, "At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."
                                                                      
The students of Tiananmen understood that with their sit-ins at Tiananmen Square and their participation in the hunger strike.
The young people of Hong Kong during the Occupy movement of the Umbrella Movement also understood it.  In both cases, the government of China pointed to "outside agitator" for the protests.
         
The song "We Shall Overcome" became the anthem of marches for human rights everywhere. 

weshall3.jpgIn a short speech made four days before his assassination, Dr. King reference the song "We shall overcome": 

"Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome.

You know, I’ve joined hands so often with students and others behind jail bars singing it,
We shall overcome.

Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it,
but we still decided to sing it,
We shall overcome.

Oh, before this victory’s won, some will have to get thrown in jail some more, but we shall overcome.
Don’t worry about us.
Before the victory’s won, some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome.

Before the victory’s won, even some will have to face physical death.
But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive.

Before the victory’s won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names,
dismissed as rabble rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome.

We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, “No lie can live forever.

We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
wrong forever on the throne,
yet that scaffold sways the future and behind the dim
unknown standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above his own.


May the spirit of Dr. King's struggle continue to inspire the world.
Ann Lau