On King and Living a Life Beyond Fear

Forty-three years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s slaying, those who fight for social and economic justice still face real threats to their safety and rights, says the NAACP's president.

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It is a history that reaches all the way back to the freedmen and freedwomen who got us going during the early, blood-soaked days of Jim Crow. It is the tradition of cultivating young leaders in which King was raised. And it is this tradition, perhaps more than anything else, that allows us to keep bending the moral arc of this country toward justice.

Today is the anniversary of King's assassination, and the NAACP is leading more than 40 actions across the country. Each is part of the "We Are One" effort to draw attention to the spate of attacks on basic civil rights being committed by Tea Party-backed politicians in dozens of states.

These include attacks on everything from the right to organize to equal opportunity in education to a woman's right to choose to the rights of immigrants to be treated with basic dignity and respect. And while the Tea Party has become more inclusive in recent months, its rhetoric still often encourages the worst in those who aim to see our country move backward, not forward.

We stand up today. We will not be intimidated, we will not be silenced and we will fight anyone who attempts to strip away the rights of our fellow Americans until we win. It is this tradition of actively defending the rights and freedoms of all Americans that our tradition of raising courageous children ultimately protects.

And that is why yesterday I went to Spokane to join local NAACP leaders as they held their first march since the averted bombing.

This time there was one difference: We were not there to commemorate the legacy of King. We were there to continue it.

Benjamin Todd Jealous is the president and CEO of the NAACP.

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