FORT SMITH – Students, community leaders, and people of every persuasion will take today to remember the life of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as his birth is celebrated with today’s national holiday.
A number of state and national leaders issued statements reminding Arkansans to remember the impact that King, who was assassinated in 1968, made during his thirty-nine years of life.
In his weekly radio address over the weekend, Governor Asa Hutchinson noted the fact that the King holiday now stood alone, having been separated by state law from the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who for years was honored on the same day.
“As evidence of our progress in Arkansas, this is the second year that Dr. King will have his birthday to himself, as he should,” Hutchinson said. “It was a privilege for me participate in the statewide effort that created the legislation to give Dr.King a day in his honor – and in his honor alone. It was a long time coming, but when the moment arrived, we did it in a way that was true to Dr. King’s ideals. We worked across political and racial lines in a way that revealed the best in our humanity.”
Other leaders looked back at the things accomplished during the leader’s life.
“Reflecting on the legacy of Dr. King, I am again struck by his passion, conviction, and courage in the face of injustice, and how he was used by God to accomplish so much,” Arkansas Lt. Governor Tim Griffin said Monday. “He was unapologetic in advocating for the Biblical values reflected in 1 Samuel 16:7 and reminding us all that character, not race, is what matters.”
In Fort Smith, an 11:30 AM parade will celebrate Dr. King’s life in downtown Fort Smith, along with several events on the UA-Fort Smith campus.