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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day

January 15, 2024

MLK Day - AMS FulfillmentWe have been celebrating the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for enough years that we believe we know the story of what he did for America. The holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January, and this year it falls on Dr. King’s actual birthday – January 15th. This year, 2024, would have been his 93rd birthday. Martin Luther King Day was established as a federal holiday in 1983 but was not observed until 1986.

Many have studied the story of Dr. King in school, and more than a few living today remember the events as they took place. We either watched the events on TV, or read about them, or we participated in some way. We also remember the assassination of this wonderful man and leader. What a shocking and terrible day for America – April 4th, 1968. He was 39 years of age.

To many of us today, segregation seems remote – we cannot imagine the world as it was. The images of a ‘whites only’ drinking fountain, or lunch counter, or school are etched in our consciousness. Yes, these things happened… these things and much more. For the changes in America, we are profoundly grateful for Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement he led.

Integration did take place, some of the barriers came down, and gradually the country came to a better place with regard to the descendants of enslaved Africans. The American people have tried to right the wrongs, with a few exceptions, and we have come a long way. Today the effort to create a fully just world continues, spearheaded by B Corporations, of which AMS is one.

Rather than repeat the story of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, in this writing we would like to offer some paragraphs from his “I Have a Dream” speech. It was in August of 1963 that Dr. King delivered this speech, during the March on Washington.

In this speech, Dr. King lays out the message in the first four paragraphs. He points out that America has not met the promise of democracy. He calls for an end to segregation and the beginning of a path to racial justice. Here below we offer these first four profound paragraphs.


“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

“But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”


As Dr. King moves forward through his speech, he calls on people to not commit wrongful deeds in search of justice. He asks the people to meet physical force with soul force. He urges the audience to not distrust all white people, and to recognize that we share a destiny. Dr. King’s non-violent, non-hate approach was in stark contrast to the violence and pure hatred coming out of the American South.


“There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.”


Finally, Dr. King expresses his dream of peace, equality and justice. He asks the nation to rise up and live out the true meaning of democracy and equal rights. Here he delivers the profound words we all remember about judging not by one’s color of the skin, but the content of the character.


“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”


Dr. King concludes his message by uplifting the people to a spiritual plane, referring to language and images drawn from the Bible. The language is beautiful and poetic, leading listeners to share his dream that all people will see this day of justice and equality together.


“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”


Prejudice is deeply ingrained in the human personality, but it does not exist in the soul. What Dr. King asked of us is that we grow out of the prejudices which come from ignorance of each other’s experience and grow up into what our souls know about justice and truth. Truth is… we do know what’s right.

Recently we published an article about JEDI – Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Does practicing JEDI lift AMS Fulfillment up into the soul’s knowledge? That is certainly our intention and our aim. 

We wish our employees, our clients, and all readers a happy Dr. Martin Luther King Day. We would like to offer our readers three links, with the first being the full speech from which we took our excerpts [HERE]. The second link is to another wonderful speech, entitled “A Proper Sense of Priorities.” This speech is about the Viet Nam war and poverty [HERE]. The third link is to the King Center website [HERE] where there is information about this year’s celebration and focus.