January 18, 2021

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Martin Luther King Jr.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2021 – On this national holiday, the American Bar Association honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by remembering his profound words in support of nonviolence and his profound works that moved the United States toward racial justice.

As we have seen too vividly in recent days, violence is easily provoked but not so easily overcome. In his lifetime, Dr. King saw more than his share of violence – against himself personally and against others – yet he was persistent in declaring the virtues of nonviolent protest. “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon,” he said. “It is a weapon unique in history, that cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

The rule of law is a powerful, nonviolent tool for achieving justice. As we pursue justice for all, we are deeply indebted to trailblazers like Dr. King who sacrificed so much, including their lives, to make the United States a more fair and just society.

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