Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal statement on the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Philadelphia, PA -- On the national holiday bearing his name, we celebrate the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year, more than ever, current events have caused me to turn even more intently to his speeches and quotes. Dr. King understood the power of words: their ability to encourage, inspire, educate, comfort, and enlighten. These words still resonate on what would have been his 92nd year as a change agent in our society: “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win, and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat.”

In these times, it has never been more important to remember how essential it is to serve others and support causes we believe in. Dr. King’s life taught us about the power of faith, hope, optimism, and action. He believed in a United States that could do better – and better serve all its citizens.

With a new presidential administration beginning just days from now, let us use this day to focus anew on all that is positive in our country – and all that we can make positive.

The words, the deeds, and the life of Dr. King are a constant source of renewal for all of us. Due to the pandemic, we will not be able to meet in large gatherings to take part in Philadelphia’s historic Day of Service – but that should not stop us from doing our part.

Dr. King once said, “Everybody can be great.” That is true now more than ever for the same reasons Dr. King specified: “Anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace [and] a soul generated by love.”

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal 
Office of the Sheriff in the City and County of Philadelphia