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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.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.