On January 21st, Americans honored Martin Luther King, Jr. and the sacrifices he made in the pursuit of equality. His unwavering commitment to standing for what was right and promoting peace over violence can teach us a lot about what real leadership looks like.
Dr. King was a man of faith and conviction, and securing civil rights was something that he believed in very strongly. He once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Those words are as true today as they were the day they were first spoken. Believing in what is right means little if one is not willing to stand up and act on it.
As we recognize Black History Month throughout February, it is helpful to remember the lessons that people like Dr. King shared with us. They are not just words to be studied in a History book; they can guide us on present-day issues as well. He was not alone in his mission to inspire a society where people were “judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Most Ohioans probably do not recognize the name William McCulloch. Born in Holmes County in 1901, he was a public servant for more than 40 years, serving in both the Ohio House of Representatives and Congress, having never lost an election. He started his own law practice in 1928, served his country in uniform and won numerous awards for distinguished public service before his death in 1980. But his greatest cause and most enduring legacy were his many contributions to the civil rights movement.
McCulloch worked closely with President Kennedy in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite serving a Midwest Ohio district in which African Americans made up less than three percent of the population, he stood tall for civil rights because he knew it was the right thing to do.
He saw the way black Americans were treated during his time studying law in Florida. In the same spirit as Dr. King, McCulloch not only believed in the cause of equality, but was willing to stand up and make his voice heard.
The courage of these men, and of so many others like them, to act on their convictions inspired real change in this country. May we all show the same courage to stand up for the things we believe in.