On Monday, the nation will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate the legacy of the beloved civil rights leader. MLK Day is marked with prayer services, speeches and concerts. It has become a national day of service for many across the U.S. with a goal of Americans helping each other.

The annual tribute reminds us of how Dr. King guided Americans to speak out through nonviolent activism in support of voting rights, desegregation, labor rights and other social justice issues.

In 2021, MLK Day is coming after nearly a year of fear, conflict and confusion due to the coronavirus pandemic and after months of mostly peaceful demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This MLK Day comes less than two weeks after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. while members of the House of Representatives and the Senate were in the process of officially counting the Electoral College votes that were certified by each of the 50 states as the final step, required by the Constitution, to declare Joseph Bidenas the president-elect. This came after numerous nationwide court challenges by President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the results were wrong, firing up a crowd during a rally near the White House just before the certification process began on Jan. 6.

Barricades were overrun, the U.S. Capitol was breached, windows were shattered, lawmakers were rushed to safe rooms. There was looting in the chambers and offices. We saw in real time on our smart phones and televisions video images of the rampage where rioters with pro-Trump hats and signs dragged police officers down. One horrifying image showed mob members beating an officer with an American flag. Explosive devices were reported at the Republican National Committee building as well as the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Five people died in this riot, including a Capital Police officer.

This was an attack on our democracy, the Constitution and our rule of law.This was an attack on the United States of America.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes just two days before the inauguration of President-elect Biden on Jan. 20, when the peaceful transfer of power is to take place during a coveted ceremony that is central to the American process and tradition.

Federal authorities, however, are warning that there may be more disturbances with armed protesters on inauguration day not only in Washington, D.C., but also in capital cities in each of the 50 states. The prospect is overwhelming.

So, we look at Dr. King’s teachings for inspiration and guidance through these frightening times.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Dr. King said.

Our country matters. We must condemn the violence.

“The time is always right to do what is right,” he said.

So, Americans must peacefully unite to repair the political divide and stand up for democracy. We must together speak out against lies, hate, anti-Semitism and racism.

As Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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