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Senior Older and Wiser By June Michel

THE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. holiday at the beginning of the year is always filled with inspirational quotes. He led us with the firm conviction that together, we could make a difference. Recently, we lost another voice in the wilderness, Desmond Tutu. Fortunately, both leaders left us with words of wisdom to pass along from generation to generation. Let’s dive into their thought-provoking advice.


MLK: “The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.”

“The worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.”

“It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”

TUTU: “I am fifty-two years of age. I am a bishop in the Anglican Church, and a few people might be constrained to say that I was reasonably responsible. In the land of my birth, I cannot vote. Whereas, a young person of eighteen can vote. And why? Because he or she possesses that wonderful biological attribute – a white skin.”


MLK: “Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of good will ...

"Give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy ...

"Give us the ballot and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court's decision of May 17, 1954." (Brown v. Board of Education)

“Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges. There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference.... In the past, apathy was a moral failure. Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.”

TUTU: “For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognize that we are humans, too.”

“1994, that was first time, and the first time for Nelson Mandela, and he, too, this extraordinary human being, and the many, many, many, many others. Actually, in a way, you would say white people who had always voted in racially discriminated elections were voting for the first time, voting for the first time in a democratic — truly democratic — election. So, we were all, as it were, on the same page. But it was — I said then, when I was asked, “What is your — how do you describe how you feel?” I said, “Well, how do you describe falling in love? How do you describe red to someone who is totally blind? How do you speak about the glories of a Beethoven symphony to somebody who is deaf? Well, it’s like that. I mean, I’m over the moon. I’m on cloud nine,” as were most of my, if not all of my, compatriots on that day.”

Well seniors, both Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu fully expected us to understand and defend our right to freedom and democracy. It has been one year since the Washington DC insurrection and you know what, the constitution of the United States will not be torn asunder on our watch. Right?


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