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Honoring a legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 4, 2008

Forty years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. Posted below, to commemorate his legacy, are excerpts of an Oct. 30 General Session speech given by Coretta Scott King, author, widow of Martin Luther King Jr. and passionate advocate of nonviolence, at the 2001 PRSA International Conference in Atlanta.

During her speech, King emphasized her late husband’s commitment to nonviolence, his abhorrence of revenge and retaliation and how those lessons apply to us today. She said he challenged all of us to look at the world’s problems with new eyes and to find new solutions.

“I know many of us are struggling with the understandable feelings of hurt and anger toward the perpetrators of the brutality of Sept. 11, but, as Americans, we have a special obligation not only to lift up, but also not to let this anger degenerate into hatred of any ethnic or religious group,” King said. “So I think another challenge facing America’s PR professionals is to help channel this anger we feel away from destructive and divisive directions into something positive and constructive.”

She went on to say that Americans are “called to provide leadership for a more tolerant world.” America’s diversity makes it imperative to lead the way into “international and multicultural unity.” America is a country that opens its doors to the world and encourages people to come to be free. It is a commitment to honor and a large responsibility to shoulder, King said.

She also urged Americans to use the Sept. 11 tragedy as an experience to come together as one and to reaffirm our humanity.

“There is an old saying: ‘Living well is the best revenge.’ And there is much truth in it. But let us give the phrase ‘living well’ a new, deeper meaning, not living well [just] in the material sense, but let’s try to live well by becoming more loving, more caring and compassionate, more generous and openhearted to people in need, not only in our own country, but around the world.” — John Elsasser, Tactics and The Strategist editor in chief


Video — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, delivered April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

Article — Veteran reporter Tom Brokaw discusses "King," a two-hour television documentary examining the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The documentary premiers April 6 on the History Channel.


Ken Jacobs says:

John, Thanks for dedicating part of PR Tactics and the Strategist Online to remind us of Dr. King's legacy, and of Coretta Scott King's important message to those of us in the communications industry. You present a crucial re-definition of "living well." We in the public relations field have a unique opportunity and yes, the responsibility to encourage others to display the attributes you cite; it starts not with what we say, but what we do." kj

April 6, 2008

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