While many Americans will spend these cold January days cozied up with a cup of hot chocolate, some brave patriots will bear the cold to participate in Martin Luther King Day of Service projects promoting civil rights. Others will head to Washington, D.C. to participate in the March for Life; and still others will go to local marches for life.
These Martin Luther King Day of Service projects and marches for life aren’t often associated with each other, which is strange because they are just one week apart and there is no civil right that precedes the right to life.
This apparent oversight certainly is not ignored by Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King, who has been making the connection for over fifteen years, spreading her message that abortion is the greatest civil rights issue of our time and that her uncle would be pro-life.
She has said previously, “I know in my heart that if Uncle Martin were alive today, he would join with me in the greatest civil rights struggle of this generation—the recognition of the unborn child’s basic right to life.”
She has explained, “My uncle Martin would agree that we cannot end poverty, hunger, or suffering by killing those who might suffer. We cannot claim to guarantee equal rights if we deny the rights of the helpless.”
While states continue to pass anti-abortion laws—over 330 in fact in the past five years—the crisis still looms. Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, over 59 million lives have been lost to abortion in the U.S. alone. Another 1,500 will be lost by the end of the day.
As Alveda King has said, “The fight for all human life, from conception until natural death, is the most pressing civil rights and human rights issue of our time.”
Considering these words, and those of pro-life advocates everywhere, American Catholics would be wise to make the days between Martin Luther King Day and the March for Life a week-long campaign promoting the rights upon which our country is built; in fact, we should make it Inalienable Rights Week.
Church groups and community organizations across the country will be performing all sorts of charitable acts over Martin Luther King weekend, from volunteering with soup kitchens, to donating winter coats, to helping neighbors clean up their grounds or shovel snow. All of these acts are commendable and are great opportunities to set an example as a disciple for Christ.
More than just acts done with a volunteering spirit, Martin Luther King Day of Service projects show how we stand in solidarity with those who are in need within our community. The projects hearken back to the time when Catholics walked in solidarity with Martin Luther King Jr.
Let’s not forget how supporting a pro-life cause also fits into Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. We can also pray in front of an abortion clinic or volunteer for organizations like Good Counsel Homes or Rachel’s Vineyard. All of these things will help make Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream a reality.
We cannot outright say that Martin Luther King Jr. was pro-life, since the pro-life movement didn’t really start until after he died. However, an apparent theme in his talks and writings is his concern for the future of his community.
Alveda King quoted her uncle in a Fox News interview, recalling when Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety.”
If you do plan to participate in a Martin Luther King Day of Service project or go to a march for life, I want to personally thank you. Be assured that you have my prayers. If you haven’t made plans, it’s not too late. You may be surprised to learn all of the local opportunities available to the one who looks, including local marches for life for those who cannot make it to Washington, D.C. If there’s just no way to fit in a Day of Service project or a march for life, keep in mind that small acts of charity, prayer, and simply speaking up for the right to life in your own way can all go a long way.
Above all, please remember how complementary the pro-life cause and the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. truly are to one another. As Alveda King said, “How can the Dream survive if we murder our children?”