Statement by Archbishop Iakovos on the Twentieth Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we commemorate that day, that faithful day, of the assassination of Martin Luther King, I can recall his face which was always reflecting the beauty and the flame of his soul and recall also his voice, thundering voice, which nevertheless was exhorting and asking his followers to never get involved in violence and I recall also his fearlessness and the beauty of his dream the dream that all men and women throughout the world may one day call one another brother and sister and live in harmony, happiness and peace.
It has been 20 years since that day that has indelibly remained in my memory, in my heart, in my mind when hand-in-hand I walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama. We sent a signal to the world that we shall overcome, that no obstacles will ever deter us from the pursuit of the realization of his dream which must be the dream of all humanity. Martin Luther King was an idealist, a believing man, a dreamer but not a dreamer of the impossible. He was an activist, believing that action, intense action, can really lead the world towards that desirable state of justice, social justice, and the equality among people. He was a prophet and like all prophets never for one moment hesitated to voice his opinion and to call the world to the awakening of their dormant conscience of humanity; so that all people throughout the earth may really work for the realization of the prophecy of the Old Testament of the New Testament and the prophecy that he felt that he should resound with all his heart and voice. He was a martyr because he suffered martyrdom in order that his ideas and ideals might survive him and become the possession of all humans. He was a pioneer because he opened new avenues for the people to follow. A humanist because he was concerned. In the most humane way, in the present and the future state of human beings, he was a hero. High above all the other mediocraties who present themselves from time to time as Christ and heros. He was a teacher. A teacher who understood how to interweave into the nature of all people young and old alike, one teaching that of Christ how to live with one another and how to help one another. He was a teacher who taught by his personal example, an example never to be forgotten, an example which is so luminious as to even today help people who wonder what that man really was. He was a teacher who never stopped reminding his people and all the people that the equality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, and his was an undeniable one, a most determined one, a most sacred one.
The March in Selma has not yet been completed. Marches which are initiated by people like Martin Luther King never end. Christ died as a martyr upon the cross 2,000 years ago but His teachings continue to stir the human imagination and the human heart. The journey never ends. Even in heaven and from heaven He calls us that we must fight the good fight and march forward. St. Paul's voice is resound even today when we read His Epistles we have the feeling that we hear Christ himself. The march for recognition of human and civil rights has not ended. We must continue our marching forward until civil and human rights prevail as the first concern in the minds of all men and women throughout the world. As we observe this national holiday, let us honor Martin Luther King Jr. not only by reaffirming the ideas for which he lived and died but also reaffirming of faith, our own faith, and the ideas which may really change indeed the face of the world.
Let us on January 20th and every day pray wholeheartedly that the equality and justice and peace and freedom with dignity may reign supreme as we pursue and carry on the legacy place upon our shoulders by Martin Luther King Jr. It is high time for us to rally all our force and faculties so that love and peace may fill the hearts of all men. As we celebrate today another national holiday, let us joyfully and with one voice, and one heart, and one soul shout out our hope that the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. become the dreams of all of us that all of us may lovingly live his dream.