The Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King also resulted in the Voting Rights Act, which is key to the enfranchisement of all minorities, including American Muslims.
Every time I stand before a crowd to encourage civic participation and to mobilize positive action to protect minority civil rights, I remember Dr. King and the many other leaders who sacrificed so much, including their lives, and made our work in defense of civil liberties possible today. Without their courage, dedication and achievements, none of our work would be possible.
Today, we honor their memory by working to protect the liberties that they fought for. No one should take the peace and freedom we enjoy for granted.
Despite substantial progress in civil and human rights, fear and hatred continue to threaten the bonds of our society. When we see Muslim houses of worship firebombed, Sikh temples attacked and hear those who fail to see others as their equals broadcasting their message of hate on the airwaves, we know that that we must remain vigilant.Dr. King once noted: "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom." American Muslims are learning this important lesson as we confront many of the same challenges faced by Dr. King and by members of other minority groups throughout our nation's history. Individual Muslims and Muslim institutions are under relentless rhetorical attack by a vocal minority of our fellow Americans who seek to falsely portray Islam as a threat to this nation. But try as we might, American Muslims will never be able to reverse this manufactured hostility to our faith without being part of the larger civil rights movement. This must be a collective effort, and it will only be through seeking advice from those who have come before us and by joining hands with others that American Muslims will have a chance of success in decreasing intolerance and increasing mutual understanding.