You’ll be moved – maybe even to tears – when you read a message written by Dr. Martin Luther King’s wife. Coretta Scott King talks about her husband’s dreams for racial equality and about the principles of freedom, justice, tolerance and equality that not only define Dr. King’s dream, they exemplify our nation’s “noblest principles.”

As cultural exchange advocates and sponsors, we have a responsibility to educate our foreign guests about American culture. As citizen ambassadors of the United States, we have a further responsibility for imbuing the values upon which our mighty nation was built.  It is through exposure and education with peoples of other nations that we achieve common understanding, and build relationships stronger than the riffs and differences that would attempt to divide us.

Dr. King was one of America’s most vocal and passionate champions of racial justice and equality. The tenets of inclusion, tolerance and brotherly love that he preached and practiced are the very ideals behind exchange visitor programs. His belief that people of different, nationalities, religions, races, and background can unite for the purpose of peace and prosperity are not only the hallmark of the programs we support, they are the ideals that fuel our passion as an exchange community.

In excerpts from a Coretta Scott King message, The Meaning of the King Holiday, she elegantly and passionately implores us to continue her husband’s legacy, reminding us why America has designated King Day as a day of commemoration.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.”

On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation. It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.”

Although Dr. King was an American, he was, above all, a humanitarian who wished for a legacy of love and service. Over 100 nations commemorate the birth of the “global leader who inspired nonviolent liberation movements around the world.”  Mrs. King asks for followers’ personal commitment to serve humanity with the same unconditional love that was her husband’s “greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership.”

As for us and others who serve by welcoming people from around the world, we commit to doing our part to bring global citizens together for the greater good of humanity. All of us can and should carry the torch of Dr. King’s dreams and join him in a legacy of humble service, peace, hope and equality.

Happy MLK Day!