Editorial: Reverend King’s accessible legacy

Great historical figures, especially those who have died, often seem larger than life. Their immense legacies live on through their speeches, addresses, legislations and continuous movements. For those figures fortunate to live during the last several decades, their legacies may even be recorded to audio or film. Such is the case for Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work.

King’s accomplishments and accolades are numerous. Aside from being a highly educated, intelligent and articulate public theologian and pastor, he was the pinnacle leader of the Civil Rights movement who insisted on peaceful protest and non-violence in both speech and action.

Much of his elegant, well-structured and inspiring oratory is recorded on both film and audio, and much of his written work has been preserved and made available. His natural abilities as the leader of a movement and personal integrity are also recorded in his writings, public addresses and various recordings.

Few others in recent history have crossed and broken through barriers of racial inequality and cultural divides in such profound and lasting ways. While the tragic assassination of King took his immense potential to carry on the work he started — snuffing out a soul that rose above unspeakable abuse and seemingly impossible challenges — his assassination did not take away the body of his past work. His writings and public displays exist in libraries, documentaries and online resources, preserved for generations present and to come.

This week, communities within Leader Publications’ readership celebrated with the rest of the country with organized events and presentations to honor the memory of King. Songs, dances, speeches, essays and meals were shared to locally memorialize an international figure who brought hope to peoples and individuals alike. It is in the celebration of local communities that the accessibility of King’s life and work is made manifest.

It can seem with many figures and leaders, present and historical, that their lives and work is untouchable, or unattainable for the average person. Some figures may seem so larger than life that their presence and absence leave a seemingly irreparable void. King was a man who indeed cannot be replaced. When actors good and bad claim authority over King’s memory, it is the responsibility of all people to remember that he was killed before his work could achieve just resolution, or full fruition.

But during events like the Cassopolis MLK Day celebrations, it’s a comforting reminder that even though King was taken too soon, his memory lives on to bring hope to communities large and small, local and international. King’s impact has lasted not only because of the great things he did, but because of the preservation of his work that can be accessed by the masses. The body of his work, from letters written in a prison cell to speeches made to thousands, is a click or a page turn away.

Readers are encouraged to read, listen and watch material of King and others to bring those truths and values to life in their own lives and communities.

Opinions expressed are those of general manager Ambrosia Neldon, sports editor Scott Novak, and reporters Kelsey Hammon, Sarah Culton and Adam Droscha.

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 314,216 cases, 8,543 deaths

News

Niles man charged in downtown bank robbery

Berrien County

Pokagon Band donates proceeds from Four Winds Invitational to Beacon Children’s Hospital

Berrien County

Local effort underway to support Wreaths Across America

Dowagiac

SMC unveils Grady Scholars initiative

News

MDARD, MI Retailers Association, Meijer urging consumers to shop as normal

News

Further protecting construction, manufacturing workers, MIOSHA enhances inspection efforts

Berrien County

Police rescue man trapped under vehicle after two-car crash in Niles Township

News

Niles mayor asks public to heed warnings after testing positive for COVID-19

Business

Local tree farm opens for holiday season

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg Sports Complex asking for support on GivingTuesday

Education

Niles High School students finish out investment tournament in top half

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Rotary Club planning to support Feed the Hungry campaign

Cass County

Dowagiac roofer sentenced for stolen property, probation violation

Education

Honor Credit Union donates to Edwardsburg Intermediate School

Cass County

Cass County Board of Commissioners approves substance abuse funding, new records system

News

Main Street DDA, volunteers decorate downtown Niles for holiday season

Cass County

Pedestrian killed in Porter Township crash

Dowagiac

DUS October students of the month announced

News

One arrested for armed robbery of downtown Niles bank

Dowagiac

Four Winds Casinos to remain open with COVID-19 precautions

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Cass, Van Buren counties report new COVID-19 deaths

Business

Excavating business breaks ground on new Cassopolis facility

News

MSU Extension offering new online course for workplaces facing conflict relating to social distancing policy enforcement