Last week, George W. Bush spoke at a “photo op” staged for maximum media coverage. The event was only marginally about the president, though. The star of the show was Martin Luther King Jr.

Armed with a paint brush, Bush did a little work to improve the looks of Cardozo High, a largely poor, minority high school near the White House. What he had to say, however, was more important than the paint job.

“I encourage people all around the country to seize any opportunity they can to help somebody in need,” Bush said Monday, adding that by doing so, King’s legacy is honored. “And by helping somebody in need, you’re really helping yourself; you’re lifting your soul.”

Even Bush-bashers had to agree: For once, he’s right.

Memories fade, new generations are born and new public figures take the spotlight. But it would be a tragedy if Martin Luther King Jr. left our collective consciousness. Nearly four decades after his death, King’s message has never been more relevant.

Sanctioned racism is part of a bygone era, but prejudice still divides when common humanity should unite. Truth must still be to spoken to power. There are still people who need assistance, and people able to help.

Martin Luther King Jr. walked his talk, and paid a terrible price. President Bush spoke well Monday, but he was riding coattails — the day belonged to Dr. King. And every day is a good day to remember King’s message.

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