Gov. proclaims Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

From the text of Gov. Deal’s speech last Thursday proclaiming the day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.”

Almost one-half century after his death, our nation continues to measure Martin Luther King, Jr., the man … we continue to measure his work … we continue to measure the impact he made on his world, and on the world we now inhabit.

He has been measured, he has been weighed, his works have been tested … and the passing of time has served only to illuminate the greatness of this man.

Rev. King understood that we are defined in the fiery furnaces of life.  And born into a time in which his people strived in poverty, he met the dark challenges of his day with almost unimaginable courage.  Where society said, “sit in the balcony” … “enter through the back door” … “people of color, need not apply,” his response was to remake the world after this principle – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Other men saw prejudice and injustice and found cause to lament.  Martin Luther King Jr. took up his pen, took up a microphone, and decided to march.

 … With the passing of time, Dr. King’s wisdom proves only more profound.  Being a “true neighbor” requires selflessness and sacrifice … it requires risking all for the “welfare of others.” And, in the end, that call to brotherly love would prove prophetic in his own life.  Dr. King gave his life for a cause that provided dignity and opportunity for millions of men, women and children, in both his day and ours.

… In 1964, upon receiving the Nobel Prize, Dr. King stated:

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

When MLK was shot and killed, it must have appeared to some around our nation that evil had triumphed.  But “right” was only “temporarily defeated.” Dr. King’s “truth” and “love” have triumphed and, because they have, we live in a better world.

It is now our duty to remember his work, and then to build on his legacy.  We do that in ceremonies like this one, in which we place this same stake of human dignity and equality in the ground and say, “we’ve come this far and we will only push forward.”

That’s why in May of this last year, I signed legislation creating the MLK Advisory Council to promote the legacy and philosophy of this great Civil Rights leader.

I know many of those Council members are here today.  I want to ask them to please stand and be recognized for the important work they’re doing to carry forward Dr. King’s legacy.

Today, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and we remember and commit ourselves to these high ideals:

that all men really are created equal … that men should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character … that the “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice” for all.

It is with those ideals in mind, that I am now pleased to present the King family with this proclamation declaring Monday, January 16, 2012 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Georgia.

Thank you and may God continue to bless the work and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in this great nation.

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