Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.



Today we pause to remember the life and legacy of one of America's greatest sons — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Celebrations are unfolding across the city.

For those searching for ways to memorialize the holiday, Mayor Greg Ballard offered a couple suggestions at a ceremony held Friday at the City-County Building.

-Visit the Peace Memorial at MLK Park on North Broadway – where Robert Kennedy broke the news to Indianapolis of King's assassination.

-MLK Luminary Garden – as part of Glick Peace Walk on the Cultural Trail.

-Read to your children or have them listen to the "I Have a Dream Speech"

King would have been 83 on Jan. 15. Dead now for 44 years, Ballard noted, he's been gone longer than he was with us.

"Two generations have now grow up since his passing ... As time marches on, it's important that children understand the role Dr. Martin Luther King played in our country's coming of age," Ballard said. "Now more than ever, he must continue on as an inspiration."

The keynote speaker at the city's MLK event, Rev. Mel Jackson, said that, while the nation is out of the starting gate on the road to realizing King's dream, "we are not there yet."

Jackson's address centered on what he called " a caste system of incarceration," in which people of color and low-income people of all races can become trapped, unable to reintegrate into society after completing a sentence because of lack of job and housing opportunities or the inability to pay re-entry or maintenance fees.

"It's a great country, but we can do better," Jackson said. "America, we can do better. Indiana, we can do better. Indianapolis, we can do better."

He concluded by saying: "Let freedom ring in our hearts today ... Let the peace of God rain in and direct our lives as — as we join together, hand in hand, across every barrier that limits the privilege and opportunities to be the best that they can be."

Jackson's mentor, Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods Olgen Williams, summarized the substance of one of the most important lessons he'd learned from the reverend about King's legacy of service.

"He taught me not to be a hater, a blocker or a knocker ... there's plenty of them," he said. "Be a doer."

In honor of that ideal, Mayor Ballard recognized the work of J.R. Dalton, who uses the proceeds from his various businesses to fund a food pantry and a soup kitchen.


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