In the strife of Truth with Falsehood for the good or evil side.
Parts the goats upon the left hand and the sheep upon the right.
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble when we share her wretched crust.
Ere her cause bring fame and profit. And ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.
These were words from a hymn of our childhoods. And they were words that guided our fathers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson, in their fervent quests for social justice for all.
This weekend marks the 58th anniversary of the March on Washington, which in 1963 drew hundreds of thousands to the National Mall to push for passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Alas, 58 years later the right to vote is painfully under attack again. Thus on August 28 we must join shoulder to shoulder again at the “March On for Voting Rights” to protect the sacred right of all Americans to have their votes counted.
My father, the civil rights icon
As Martin Luther King’s son, I saw my family sacrifice countless times because of my father’s commitment to the Civil Rights Movement. I witnessed as my father gave his heart, soul and very life for social justice for people of color and for people who felt the sting of economic disadvantage.
My father died when I was only 10. I cherish the memories of going with him to the YMCA, where he taught us to swim and he could get the physical exercise he sorely needed to sustain his demanding schedule. I remember the father-son times when he made me feel he valued my companionship, as I did his.
I was orphaned by his sacrifice but inspired forever to do justice in his name and in the names of those who fought along with him.
I was so young when my father died that I was denied hearing him tell me many of his great stories. I have only learned of them through his life’s work. Their value is so important to me that I have embraced them as my own.
I saw my father, the president, defend civil and voting rights
As Lyndon Johnson’s daughter, I witnessed my father give his political life in defense of civil rights and voting rights. In 1964, as he championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I heard him say, “If I lose the South because of my support for civil rights I will gladly do so, because what else is the Presidency for?” I had the privilege of seeing him work with Dr. King, John Lewis, Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and countless other civil rights leaders who inspired a whole generation to do the right thing.
Taking up where our fathers left off
Social justice was the cause of our fathers, and now our generation’s moment has come. Much of what they accomplished is unraveling, and it is up to us to take up where they left off.