January 15th, 2007 06:00 EST
It is MLK Day: Everyday
A pastor, a powerful speaker and a prophet; these are just some of the words used to describe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although our country recognizes Dr. King`s birthday each year, his family and followers continue to educate our nation about the importance of honoring him every day.
Rev. William Luffman of Faith Outreach Church in Clarksville was in fourth grade when King was assassinated in April of 1968. Considering his age at the time, Luffman didn`t realize what a lasting impact King`s life (and death) would have on society. As he aged, however, Luffman began to learn lesson upon lesson from the great civil rights leader.
One of the most important teachings, Luffman said, is that every person is valuable and worthy of respect. This mutual respect and community cohesion is especially important to people like Marion Bell, a Clarksville resident that lived in Atlanta during the civil rights movement.
It was hard-living in those days, " said the 69 year old Bell. Everybody was wondering how things would turn out. "
King gave people like Bell, A sense of feeling, of being alive, " she said.
Although some feel our country still has a long way to go in terms of racial equality, King`s words and wishes provide the blueprint for how our nation could eventually turn out to be united.
He was about everyone coming together, " Luffman said. All of us are born incomplete. We are only completed when we welcome others in our lives. "
This sense of welcoming is extended everyday at The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. The museum is the site of the King assassination and on his birthday an average of 11,000 people come to honor his life and legacy.
It`s a great sense of pride to see thousands of people standing in line in inclement weather, " said Tangela Ray, a public relations and marketing assistant at the Civil Rights Museum.
People can still be educated and inspired by this American enigma, thanks to this museum and the work of King`s family. One of King`s daughters, Bernice, is now a Reverend and visited Luffman`s parish last March.
Meeting her was the highest compliment, " Luffman said. We were overwhelmed to have her with us. "
Bernice spent time at Luffman`s home where she talked about her father`s enduring message. She said that although he changed an entire nation, he was much more than a civil rights leader.
King is someone that continues to be at the forefront of hearts and minds across the world, Ray said.
For people like Luffman and Bell, King`s teachings will always be important.
I`m still trying to live by what he said, " Luffman said. If we only celebrate him once a year, we really miss his message. "