MLK at March on WashingtonToday is a day to celebrate. It’s Martin Luther King’s birthday, Sunday, January 15.

No, wait . . . we’re supposed to celebrate tomorrow – that way those of us with jobs get a three-day weekend. Thank you, sir.

I’m going the whole distance. I’m celebrating both Sunday and Monday.

Why? I was inspired by Martin Luther King’s words . . . and deeds. Like Rick Sanders in my novel, Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights, Dr. King changed my life. He impressed both Ricky and me with his book Stride Toward Freedom, where, in a chapter called “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” he laid out the intellectual argument for his philosophy of nonviolence.

My copy is old and tattered, yellowed, some of the pages falling out. It’s a Ballantine Books paperback, second printing, January 1961. It cost me 50 cents. The message hasn’t changed; it’s as fresh as it was 51 years ago.

Rick and I both devoured MLK’s books. We marveled at his oratory. We celebrated his Nobel Peace Prize. We applauded his opposition to the Vietnam war. We cried when he was murdered.

I’m honoring Martin Luther King today by re-reading “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” as well as two of his most famous pieces, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” both of which I’ve reprinted in their entirety on my website. Click on them below.

Then, join me in reading them all. That’s the spirit behind this holiday.

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