by Judge Lynn W. Davis
“Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.”
– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
For a long time I have contemplated how we could pay greater tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I wish to encourage the Utah State Bar and its members to be more involved in celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It has been my experience that we each can play a more supportive and impassioned role.
Opportunities to be involved abound in our communities. Utah Valley University, for example, now in its eighteenth annual celebration, has invited Julian Bond to be its guest this year. Last year Ambassador Andrew Young was featured. Two years ago, the Brown sisters of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 74 S. Ct. 686 (1954), were honored guests. The University, as part of its “being engaged” philosophy, welcomes and encourages lawyers to be involved in presentations and panels, as well as serving as speakers and moderators. The work of the Martin Luther King Advisory Board has been exceptional and serves as an example after which our own efforts could be patterned.
The NAACP Salt Lake Branch sponsors a luncheon each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Little America Hotel. The public is cordially invited to enjoy the atmosphere of tribute where they listen to guest speakers.
Brigham Young University sponsors an annual candle light march/vigil. That tradition, which started with a handful of us twenty years ago, now routinely has over five hundred marchers. Last year, Darius Grey gave a very poignant and touching tribute to Dr. King at the end of the march.
The University of Utah has traditionally conducted two or three days of events honoring Dr. King. Such celebrations are duplicated, principally in college and university communities, throughout the State of Utah.
When my children were young, I took them to meet Rosa Parks. She was warm, attentive, friendly, and responsive to our young daughters and tenderly and lovingly embraced them. That very personal interaction with such an iconic figure in such a historic setting continues to be an unforgettable, exceptional and treasured memory in our lives. Unfortunately, no other members of the Bar were present to greet and be enriched by this civil rights heroine.
If we cannot participate in such celebrations, I’ve contemplated how we can still pay tribute to this ongoing movement. One thought was that we simply take the time to read some of Dr. King’s speeches. I would recommend “Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” “I Have a Dream,” and “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.” They are lifting, stirring, thought provoking, life changing homilies from which we as individuals and as a legal community could greatly benefit.
I would encourage the Utah State Bar, in each January issue of the Utah Bar Journal, to publish a list of local celebrations honoring Dr. King, together with contact information. I would further encourage the Utah Bar Journal, also in each January issue, to publish a tribute to Dr. King and other leaders in this historic movement. We could solicit contributions from civil rights leaders, as well as practicing attorneys, judges, students, and others.
I believe that our support has been very measured and that we ought to step forward in our celebratory participation and charitable service. We must do more!
May we each thoughtfully consider the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s simple, but profound, interrogatory: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Thank you for considering these reflections.
Judge Lynn W. Davis
Fourth District Court