Jew York Social

The Spirit of MLK, Jr.

– Written by Guest Author: Chloe Valdary –

Each time I read some of the most famous writings that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. produced, I’m fascinated by how much the Jewish canon informed the way he addressed his audiences. From his sermon about the three Hebrew boys who refused to bow to the false deities of Babylon to his final “Mountaintop” speech derived from the story of how Moses saw the Promised Land of Israel but did not enter, Dr. King was moved and inspired by the story of the Jewish people.

This MLK day, it’s worth reexamining some of the values he imparted to his generation and to us, his American posterity.

In the fall of 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the students of Barratt Junior High School and told them that in order to lead successful lives, they should be sure to keep certain foundational principles in mind when pursuing their goals throughout life. One of those principles was the unbreakable belief in one’s absolute worth. “Don’t allow anyone to make you feel that you are nobody,” he said. “Always feel that you count, always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.”

As minorities and, more importantly, as human beings living in exciting and often precarious times, it is crucial that we heed the timeless wisdom that Dr. King imparted to that high school class of 1967. To build our communities and to foster an environment where sustainability and growth are of paramount importance, we must internalize a sense of our own self-worth and dignity — even when world events would seem to indicate otherwise.

This year, let’s come together more than ever before. Let’s help reinforce the love and compassion that Dr. King brought through his message of every individual having absolute worth and value. Let’s lift each other up by cultivating an environment where inclusiveness and the free exchange of ideas are not only promoted, but celebrated.

Happy MLK day. Let’s make the dream a reality.