Taylor addresses Martin Luther King event

Jack McDuffie Special to the Journal

January 17, 2014

DUBLIN — Bladen County Superintendent of Schools Robert Taylor addressed an assembly in a Martin Luther King Jr. Observance program at Bladen Community College on Thursday. He explained the significance of the accomplishments of Dr. King and how they have set him apart as more than just a hero to a select group of Americans, pointing out that King’s legacy has had worldwide impact.

In his presentation, Taylor posed a series of four questions that he said are paramount to understanding the impact of King and why his accomplishments deserve appropriate observance of the holiday set aside to honor his memory. Those questions, he said, are: how do we actually celebrate King; who celebrates him; do we understand his legacy; and what would King do?

“The first question I ask is: how do we actually celebrate Dr. King?” said Taylor.

He pointed out that this question requires us to consider the impact and legacy of our national heroes. He said that America is the “greatest nation that has ever existed.” However, he said that like anything else we cherish, it’s not always perfect. He compared the American experience to a marriage in that we continue to address problems confronting us, and that like in marriage, the problem sometimes requires counseling.

“Dr. King served as one of the great counselors of American Democracy, helping to make a marriage that was very enjoyable for one spouse in the American family, a healthy marriage that is enjoyable for the entire American family,” said Taylor.

He pointed out that freedom is not free and that we as Americans have a tendency to forget how our freedoms were obtained and often take them for granted.

“While Dr. King was not and will never be the only martyr to this great cause named American Democracy, we certainly recognize the pivotal role he played in its continuous improvement,” Taylor said.

He said that the holiday set aside to recognize King’s accomplishments is treated as any other day and that we should strive to recognize its importance and celebrate it appropriately.

In a second question, Taylor asked: who celebrates King? He pointed out that this question is not an indictment of how people choose to celebrate, but rather, who sees the importance of his accomplishments.

“African-Americans certainly hold Dr. King closest to our bosoms as a hero. We hold him in the highest regard, our Moses that led us from the wilderness of despair,” said Taylor. “But Dr. King is not simply an African-American hero, he’s an American hero. His works, efforts, and leadership guided us towards true democracy.”

He pointed out that all should hold his (King’s) efforts in the highest regard because of what he did to bring true democratic freedom to all Americans.

In his third question, Taylor asked: do we really understand King’s legacy?

“I think his greatest legacy is demonstrating how one should stand up against unrighteousness and injustice in the face of adversity,” said Taylor. “He (King) reminded us that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.”

Taylor added that perhaps the most overlooked piece of King’s legacy is “Dr. King teaching us to love America, in spite of her faults.”

Taylor culminated his presentation by using the acronym WWKD (what would King do) to explain what he believes King would want us to do to celebrate his accomplishments.

“I believe that that Dr. King would want us to continue his legacy of making this democracy great, creating the capacity for its ideas and thoughts to spread across the globe. I believe he would not want us to simply have a day off, but rather, take the opportunity to become involved,” said Taylor. “King would not want us to simply remember him and his efforts. He’d want us to continue his legacy in whatever large or small way we could.”

He ended by challenging everyone to remember King by taking on the challenge of making America a better place to live for all of its residents.