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April 4th, 2010
12:43 PM ET

Martin Luther King's Easter message

Eddie S. Glaude
Special to CNN

All around the world this weekend, Christians are celebrating Easter. For them, this holiest of days announces that death does not have the final word and that eternal life awaits those who would just believe.

Sunday also marks the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death. Forty-two years ago, an assassin's bullet took his life as he struggled to secure the promises of American democracy for the children of slaves. His sacrifice, along with countless others, helped usher in a new chapter in American life - one that prepared the way for the election of our nation's first African-American president.

Every now and again, the convergence of significant historical moments occasions a time for serious reflection. How might we think about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus and the martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the lives we currently live as Americans? What lessons does Easter hold for us? And what does remembering King's death teach us?

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January 18th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

The meaning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

Coretta Scott King and her husband Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King and her husband Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example - the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.

The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.

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October 9th, 2009
03:39 PM ET

Obama's Nobel Prize: an unorthodox move

Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Thorbjorn Jagland holds a picture of President Obama.

Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Thorbjorn Jagland holds a picture of President Obama.

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama is so unorthodox that it almost leaves one speechless. Even so, a few thoughts seem in order:

First, all Americans should join in celebrating this award to our president and congratulate him for the way he has inspired millions of citizens across the globe. Whatever one may think about Obama’s policies and politics, it is a special occasion when the Nobel Prize Committee recognizes the work and the dream of an American. We celebrate Americans who win prizes in medicine, science, and economics, and so too should we celebrate those who win for peace. It is churlish for some to attack the President and the Nobel Prize Committee today.

Second, it is clear that Barack Obama has not yet climbed the mountains that his predecessors had when they won their Peace Prizes. A Nobel was awarded to Martin Luther King, Jr. after the March on Washington, not before. Both of the two sitting presidents who won the Nobel Peace Prize previously, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, were recognized after they had achieved substantial accomplishments. It is widely understood in the United States, even in the Obama White House, that his major accomplishments remain ahead, not behind. Just last weekend, Saturday Night Live stirred politicos with its parody of Obama, claiming he has accomplished nothing. That went too far, but it was suggestive of the country’s mood.

Third, a critical question will be how this award influences President Obama’s leadership in international affairs in the years ahead. His critics should recognize that it will strengthen his diplomatic hand, and that could be a distinct benefit for US foreign policy. Soft power, as we have learned, is often as potent as hard power in today’s world. By equal measures, the President’s supporters should recognize that there is a possible downside to this award. As much as we want a president who is a peacemaker, we also want someone who is tough enough to stand up for American interests in a dangerous world. As the President makes decisions on critical issues like Afghanistan, he may be tempted to play to some of the peacenik tendencies that we have sometimes seen in Western Europe and elsewhere. This would be wrong. He has a larger and more serious set of responsibilities in keeping America and the world safe. It is worth remembering that the American Eagle, which is embedded in the Presidential seal, holds a branch of peace in one talon but carries a fistful of arrows in the other.

April 3rd, 2009
11:49 AM ET

Surviving Jena Six: The dreams of Mychal Bell

After the Jena arrest, Mychal Bell was released in late 2007 and agreed to a plea deal.

After the Jena arrest, Mychal Bell was released in late 2007 and agreed to a plea deal.

Mychal Bell
For The Global Grind

My name is Mychal Bell and I was one of the Jena Six that was charged with attempted murder down in Jena, Louisiana in 2006. As of now, seeing that we have a black president, and with the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow, I wanted to share with you my dream like Dr. King shared his dream with everybody. I even had the chance, although I was in shackles and handcuffs, to meet Martin Luther King III, when he came to visit me in prison. So, I feel like I have a connection to the King family.

When I look back at the day that I got in a fight with Justin Barker at my high school, I now realize that I should have done what Dr. King preached, which was non-violence. A few months before the fight, I remember seeing nooses hung from a tree at my school, and none of the few black students knew who was responsible. But, what came to my mind was images of Mississippi burning, seeing how black people were hung and killed, and it felt very disrespectful. In the small town that I grew up in, I had always felt that black people and white people didn't get along. After all, this was Louisiana.

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January 20th, 2009
07:59 AM ET

'From MLK to Today'

The story from MLK to President-elect Barack Obama in CNN's short film "From MLK to Today." Directed by Antoine Fuqua.

January 19th, 2009
10:21 PM ET

I have a dream, and so can you

Obama, with his wife Michelle, addresses volunteers at a luncheon on Monday.

Obama, with his wife Michelle, addresses volunteers at a luncheon on Monday.

Nic Lott
Mississippi Office of Renewal and Recovery

Tonight as I sit here with over a thousand people at the Congress of Racial Equality annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s great contributions to the promise of America, I am filled with pride and a sense of duty and service to help fulfill the dream.

This evening not only serves as an evening to reflect upon the past and honor those brave pioneers who made sacrifices, some the ultimate sacrifice, to ensure that America realizes her true potential.

This evening is the eve of a momentous occasion in our nation's history. We remember the marches for freedom in our not-so-long-ago past. Now, time will march on as America celebrates the hope that people can judge others by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

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January 19th, 2009
03:32 PM ET

The making of 'From MLK to Today'

Director Antoine Fuqua takes us behind-the-scenes on CNN's short film, "From MLK to Today."

January 19th, 2009
01:52 PM ET

My 6-year-old and Barack Obama

Jennifer Donahue
New Hampshire Institute of Politics

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I looked over at my 6 year old and reminded her that when she was five she met and shook hands with Barack Obama and asked if she knows what will happen tomorrow.

She told me he will become president and mentioned that he ran for a long time. He did, I told her. It was a long race for president. And an important one.

Words don't do it justice.

January 19th, 2009
01:47 PM ET

Dreams do come true

Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

Benjamin Ola. Akande
Dean, Webster University School of Business & Technology

As a child growing up in Nigeria, I was a dreamer. My parents never dismissed my dreams. They were always encouraging. No matter how outright unbelievable my dreams were, they would assure me that dreams do come true. Dreams provide a glimpse of what the future will look like. I wish I could have recorded all those dreams.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was recorded. It was a dream that was played out in front of thousands of people and like most dreams, no one really knew how it would play out. As the dream was recalled over the years, it became clear that this was a significant and compelling vision of the future. Martin’s dream was in the form of a remarkable prose on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Most of us can hear him recite this dream in our subconscious. “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” It is a dream that visualizes a future where all those things that seemed impossible and improbable will happen despite overwhelming obstacles.

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January 19th, 2009
09:21 AM ET

Religious diversity: King's Dream and Obama's Challenge

Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

Eboo Patel and Samantha Kirby
Interfaith YouthCore

As we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. today, we look forward to tomorrow's historic inauguration. And as this inauguration realizes an important dimension of King's dream about racial diversity and equality, it is another dimension of America's multiculturalism that has caused the most controversy for the Obama team: religion.

Americans may be surprised to learn that, just as King's dream has guided Obama regarding matters of race, so has his vision provided a great deal of inspiration regarding religious diversity.

The frenzy surrounding prayer at President Obama's inauguration events doesn't surprise us. At last count, an openly gay Bishop, a prominent Evangelical preacher, a white female Muslim, and three Rabbis from different branches of Judaism will each be offering prayers over the next few days.

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