A banner image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honoring the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

by President Richard Plumb | January 13, 2023

This Sunday is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and the nation commemorates the life and work of this iconic peacemaker on Monday, Jan. 16. This gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on his words and achievements, the progress we’ve made to realize his vision of a country for all Americans, and the sober reality of how much further we have to go.

The following day, Jan. 17, is also the National Day of Racial Healing, an initiative launched in 2017 with an aim of “bringing all people together in their common humanity and inspiring collective action to create a more just and equitable world.”

One way to gain a deeper appreciation of Dr. King’s legacy is to read some of his writing and speeches, as well as various perspectives from others. Following are a few links you might find inspirational, as well as a suite of poems appropriate for the occasion.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us also remember how the values he exemplified align so well with our own Lasallian Core Principles:

  • Concern for the Poor and Social Justice
  • Faith in the Presence of God
  • Quality Education
  • Respect for All Persons
  • Inclusive Community


Richard Plumb, Ph.D.


Excerpts from a few of Dr. King’s most enduring works:
  • “I Have a Dream” address (1963). Take 17 minutes from your day today to read or listen to this speech again.

“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

  • Letter from the Birmingham Jail (1963). King’s famous 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. It stands as one of the classic documents of the civil-rights movement.

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’

  • “Beyond Vietnam” (1967). Here, Dr. King expanded his vision for civil rights, peace, and justice within the US to the American war in Vietnam. His words from his April 1967 speech remain relevant today.

“...it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.”

 Six poems to read on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday:

In Memoriam: Martin Luther King Jr. by June Jordan

One Today by Richard Blanco

I, Too by Langston Hughes

Microwave Popcorn by Harmony Holiday

Riot by Gwendolyn Brooks

Won’t You Celebrate With Me by  Lucille Clifton