“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
From the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

On Monday, January 16, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In remembrance of King’s civil rights activism in the 1950s and ’60s, we want to honor his work by taking a walk through his memorial. As the National Park Service says, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is universal: a non-violent philosophy striving for freedom, justice, and equality.” On this day, join us in the reflection of King’s legacy and use it as inspiration to push forward and advocate for children and families in the margins around the world.

The quotes in this post are engraved in stone throughout King’s memorial. The picture at the top of this page is the main focus of the memorial and references a quote from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This sculpture of him is pulled out of the mountain of despair that is behind him. To enter the memorial, you walk through an opening in the mountain of despair and see the back of King’s statue, symbolizing a stone of hope. On the sides of the carving, there are scrapes symbolizing the struggle it took to break free from the mountain of despair.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Consider the words above, which King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963. How do you think injustice in a Zambian village or on the coast of Cambodia affects you indirectly? In your opinion, what is the importance of advocating for justice?

Spoken by King at an Anti-War Conference in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 1967:

“It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war.’ It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.”

This quote is a great reminder to focus on positive outcomes rather than on negative circumstances because hope is a great driver of change. How can you look at issues such as global poverty or a personal struggle in a positive and affirming way? 

There are cherry blossom trees around the memorial that frame the stone walls and carvings. “The significance of the floral bouquet of cherry blossoms in the early spring is one of rebirth, of recommitment to the ideas and ideals of Dr. King’s vision of America and the American Dream,” [the memorial’s executive architect, Ed Jackson Jr.] says. How can you recommit to caring for God’s children who are in need throughout the coming year? 

“We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'”

King spoke these words in Montgomery, Alabama on December 5, 1955. The quote references Amos 5:24, which says, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” How is God calling you to be a voice for justice this year? 

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
Stride Toward Freedom, 1958

Lord, as we recognize Martin Luther King Jr. for his advocacy, we ask that you help us follow his example and seek peace. Thank you for being a God of justice and of love. Amen.

All quotes were pulled from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial page on the National Park Service’s website.

Photo: © 2016 World Vision/ photos by Zoey Wilson and Amanda Mootz

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