Picture this. An awe-inspiring black man preaching national unity in an era marked by violence and upheaval. An overflow audience of residents and students rise to their feet to welcome the soul-saving American leader. His words, their meaning, and compassion comfort the stricken and fearful; they invoke common bonds of citizenship and humanity.
No, not US President Barack Obama in tragic Tucson, Arizona, 2011, urging peaceful solutions “to our most pressing national problems”. But, rather, Rev Dr Martin Luther King, the most admired human rights leader of his day, speaking to the multitudes in the National Stadium in Kingston thirty-six years ago. We must learn from Jamaica’s motto, “out of many, one people” if there is to be real progress in human relations”, he declared.
King’s rallying cry “To Face the Challenge of a New Age” echoes as Americans celebrate the birthday of the Nobel Prize winner and hero to millions on the third Monday of January. O tempera o mores (then and now): —“If only we would see and respect our shared humanity, so much of what ails America could be healed”.