Unity Place Partial Care is honoring Martin Luther King as we mark the anniversary of his birth this week. Unity, after all, is what Dr. King wanted for us all. In his most famous speech, he dreamed of children of all races joining hands, of the progeny of slave owners and slaves sitting down together “at the table of brotherhood.” Many of his supporters followed his example and have taken up causes that divide people. His example is needed as much today as ever.
Dr. King dedicated his life to equality and freedom for all Americans and urged the country to live up to its ideals. In the face of terrible bigotry and threats to his life, he upheld the doctrine of non-violent protest. He proffered an open hand to one clenched in a fist.
At Unity Place, we know the call for equality and freedom extends to individuals with addiction or mental illness. They, like minorities, have faced discriminatory practices. And over the course of the drug war, laws were enacted and enforced that disproportionately affected African-Americans and other minorities. Advocates have followed Dr. King’s example and worked tirelessly to change these laws, not with violence but with appeals to our common humanity. Their efforts have allowed more people to access treatment and promoted acceptance of addiction as primarily a public health issue.
In that renowned speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King spoke of reaching the mountaintop collectively. He understood that even someone as eloquent and dedicated as he was could not advance a cause single-handedly. He enlisted and inspired many thousands during his lifetime and, remarkably, continues to do so to this day.