As our nation pauses to recommit itself to fulfilling the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we invite our fellow citizens to reflect on how that dream touches every human life. Dr. King taught that justice and equality need to be as wide-reaching as humanity itself. Nobody can be excluded from the Beloved Community. He taught that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
In his 1967 Christmas sermon, he pointed out the foundation of this vision:
“The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. …Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such….And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won’t kill anybody.”
The work of building the Beloved Community is far from finished. In each age, it calls us to fight against poverty, discrimination, and violence in every form. And as human history unfolds, the forms that discrimination and violence take will evolve and change. Yet our commitment to overcome them must not change, and we must not shrink from the work of justice, no matter how unpopular it may become.
In our day, therefore, we cannot ignore the discrimination, injustice, and violence that are being inflicted on the youngest and smallest members of the human family, the children in the womb. Thousands of these children are killed every day in America by abortion, throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
We declare today that these children too are members of the Beloved Community, that our destiny is linked with theirs, and that therefore they deserve justice, equality, and protection.
And we can pursue that goal, no matter what ethnic, religious, or political affiliation we have. None of that has to change in order for us to embrace Dr. King’s affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. It simply means that in our efforts to set free the oppressed, we include the children in the womb.
We invite all people of good will to join us in the affirmation that children in the womb have equal rights and human dignity.
Dr. Alveda King
Director, African-American Outreach, Priests for Life
Niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mrs. Naomi Barber King
Wife of the late Rev. A.D. King (brother of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Rev. Derek King
Nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life