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Passing King’s legacy on through our families


When we look for positive role models for families, children and youth, in terms of both political and religious leadership, Martin Luther King’s commitment to God, family, community and all humankind are worth talking about.

Leadership training begins at home. As we honor King’s life and legacy, we encourage families to make a special commitment during this month -- and throughout the year -- to pass on his message of peace, love and nonviolence to our youth and young adults. The concrete suggestions that follow are positive ways for us to confront the racism, violence and indifference that destroy the human family.

  • Commitment to prayer: As a family, make a commitment to pray for peace and nonviolence in your community. Begin each day by reflecting on God’s peace, and pray for a spirit of peace to carry you through all the events of the day. At the end of the day, thank the Lord for keeping you, your family and your extended family safe from evil and harm.
  • Commitment to Learning: As a family, learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. Visit the local library to find tapes of King’s speeches or read news reports from his era. Encourage your children and youth to learn more about their historical roots and culture.
  • Commitment to Community Service: Reach out to the poor and needy. Become more aware of community needs and join a neighborhood coalition that addresses issues such as homelessness and affordable housing, economic justice, illiteracy, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, racism and discrimination.
  • Commitment to Dialogue: Work with other religious groups in your local area. Seek to understand and appreciate the traditions and customs of others.

Jan. 18-25 is a Week of Christian Unity. The theme of this week is “Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Perhaps this could be a time for a family to commit to quiet reflection and prayer each day, in order to focus on healing of the evils that keep our human family from being united in God’s love.

Fr. Warren J. Savage is president of the National Black Catholic Evangelization Forum in Westfield, Mass.

National Catholic Reporter, January 21, 2000