Monday’s “Let Freedom Ring” concert represented an inspiring merging of talent – local and otherwise – in an annual celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. It is easy to be swept away by the power and spectacle of the Broadway-scale performance, and it is right for us to celebrate, but we must be careful to stave off the feeling of closure that can so easily accompany a musical finale. Though to many it is evident that the struggle for equality goes on, it is something we cannot repeat to one another often enough. King was prepared to die for the goals of the Civil Rights movement, and if we are truly to honor his memory, we must not allow ourselves to mythologize him as we have so many other figures in U.S. history. Looking up from the orchestra pit at those gigantic images of his face during Monday’s concert conveyed a kind of awe; it is difficult for young men and women to feel they are worthy of continuing the work of a man who is idolized in this fashion. The youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, a deserved (posthumous) owner of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the deliverer of the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, the self-sacrificing leader united so many in the face of inexorable opposition. In today’s media landscape, it is practically impossible for any young individual to achieve the name recognition and mass popularity that King had. These reasons – combined with the forces of social hate and denial that still exist, even on a university campus and throughout Washington, D.C. – mean that for those of us too young to remember him, King can seem like an impossible dream. But there is nothing impossible about him. Behind his success lay countless hours of work, dedication and an army of like-minded individuals without whom we would not be able to remember King. It is faintly ironic that we celebrate his memory with a day off from school, given his unwavering commitment to the power of education. We, as the student body, should take our cue from the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee here at Georgetown and do more than simply praise a symbol, a national memory. We should not stand awestruck beneath him, but alongside him, shoulder to shoulder, as men and women capable of not only emulating his actions, but furthering them. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a god, and that is precisely why we should honor him.

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