Blood on Our Hands

Writing at the Huffington Post, Tavis Smiley channels Martin Luther King Jr. in his response to the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

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Mourners gather after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting (Mario Tama/Getty Images News)

Writing at the Huffington Post, Tavis Smiley channels Martin Luther King Jr. in his response to the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Last Friday afternoon I received a call from Jay Leno asking if I would appear as a guest on The Tonight Show to try to help make some sense of the national tragedy that had happened earlier that day at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The facts were still coming in as I rushed across town to the studios of NBC, but we knew by airtime that this would go down as one of the worst tragedies in the history of the nation; a tragedy that took the lives of so many precious and priceless children.

Searching for what to say to a national television audience, I did what I always do when I don't have the words for the occasion; I said a prayer and then I went to my library to consult with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wanted to re-read what King had to say when he gave the eulogy for the four little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 15, 1963. Though the circumstances were clearly quite different, I wanted to read once more what Dr. King had to say to a nation struggling with the needless loss of innocent young life. That moment had galvanized the Civil Rights movement and I wondered whether or not this horrific tragedy in Connecticut might represent the same in our time -- the moment where we finally decide to substitute courage for caution.

Read Tavis Smiley's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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