The Final Chapter

By Dr. Alveda C. King, Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The ongoing struggle for civil rights in our country has seen remarkable results. That so many have had to sacrifice so much and suffer so greatly to achieve equality under the law, though, is both a testament to perseverance and a stain on our national conscience. When we view how far we've come in how we treat each other, the temptation is to feel pride in our society's advancement. Pride, however, is what caused the problem of unequal treatment in the first place. And pride is what perpetuates unequal treatment today. For the final chapter of the civil rights movement to be completed, what we must pursue is humility — the magnitude of our wrongs is so enormous and the weight of guilt so heavy, there is no other way. Only humility will let us see what we've done. Only humility will cause us to seek forgiveness and healing. And only humility will keep us from committing those wrongs again. The final chapter of the civil rights movement is about persons — not one "race" of people, but humanity itself. It proceeds from the fundamental question, is your right to live inherent because you are a human being or does it depend on whether someone wants you? All other rights — voting, housing, education — mean nothing if someone else has a "right" to take your life. That's why the final civil rights chapter must bepersonhood. Without legal recognition that the protection of your continued existence should be based on something more than personal popularity, there really is nothing left to protect. Our Founding Fathers valued humanity, so much so that the Declaration of Independence could be called the first chapter of the American civil rights movement. They wrote