On the left and right, everyone takes lessons to mark Martin Luther King day--many looking to build on his legacy in differing ways. Let's begin by letting King speak for himself.


Here, a republished perspective from MLK's deceased widow Coretta Scott King, and the lessons pundits are drawing from his legacy:

  • The Courage, Non-violence, and Love  A perspective from Coretta Scott King, MLK's late widow, republished at the King Center, explains the "meaning" of Martin Luther King day. She focuses on the values of courage and humility King embodied, and the "universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit."
  • The Iconography Dan Frommer at Business Insider calls the search-engine's small homage--a black-and-white illustration of civil rights marchers--an "interesting design choice." See Google's logo here.
  • The Assault Against Power writes Christopher Hayes of The Nation. In his Twitter feed, Hayes asserts that a day of service is the wrong way to remember King's message and "really, really, *really* misses the point." King's legacy wasn't "depoliticized 'service,'" Hayes asserts. "He didn't run soup kitchens (tho those vital & and important!) He fought the power structure."
  • The Willingness to Break the Law Juan Cole contrasts King's commitment to justice--even if that meant he "repeatedly broke the law"--with timid social organizing today. "He broke laws that he saw as unjust and unconstitutional, and over time he redefined them as illegitimate by his passionate advocacy. We honor a man from a different age, when Americans seemed to care about social injustice enough to come out into the streets and risk police dogs, tear gas, and imprisonment ... In today's world is it enough to put up a facebook page and text a dollar to our favorite causes? Is that the kind of thing that would have satisfied Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?"
  • The Imperfect Prophet Scott at conservative Powerline blog is struck not only by how young King was when he was killed--at 39--but also his prophetic power. Scott then notes, "Perfection is not a condition of the prophet's call, and King was both imperfect and aware of his imperfections. His unbending strength is all the more remarkable."
  • The Goal of Eradicating Poverty In a report for the Center for American Progress, Sam Fulwood III and Melissa Boteach argue that King's focus turned late in life toward "an audacious, but achievable goal"--eliminating poverty in America. They applaud King's shift toward "widening his field of vision to seek an end to poverty among all Americans" and argue that 2010 is the year to act.