Editorial: Dr. King, President Obama

Once again, Ridgefield will mark Martin Luther King Day with a celebration that honors the slain civil rights leader with thoughtful words and beautiful music, and by honoring local residents who follow up on Dr. King’s legacy by continuing in their own ways his life’s work of making our nation a better place.

To be honored this year are two Ridgefielders: Daniela Sikora, the leader of the Ridgefield Chorale and founder of the Being Human, Being Kind initiative, and the late Tom Belote, an attorney and a proud lifelong Ridgefielder who sought to better the lot of people struggling to build new lives through his work as an attorney and prosecutor and as a volunteer and board member of the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

They are well chosen, and deserving of recognition.

The town and the event’s organizers, too, might deserve some appreciation. For a wealthy, largely white suburb, Ridgefield has established a fine Martin Luther King Day tradition, honoring the nation’s foremost advocate for the rights of minorities, the poor and the oppressed. Songs and speeches, of course, aren’t enough to continue Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for the great causes of the age — racial equality, human rights, peace. But for 21 years now, Ridgefield has put on a ceremony each year that gives citizens an opportunity to reconsider and pay tribute to the legacy of a man who in troubled times stood up to be the voice of the nation’s conscience.

Ridgefield’s celebration for Dr. King is at the Ridgefield Playhouse Monday, Jan. 16, starting at 3 p.m. It’s free, and likely to be inspiring.

And this year, 2017, the Martin Luther King celebrations come as Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, ends eight productive and dignified years in office, leading all Americans  — with his hard work, his good heart, his eloquence and passion — a little further down the winding and often bumpy road toward Dr. King’s dream.