The Interrelatedness of MLK Day and Roe at 41 

This week we have the privilege of commemorating and reflecting upon the history of two great American social justice movements. On Monday, we remembered the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And today is the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

I’d like to offer one thought that helps me to keep fighting and to draw energy from these past achievements. I hope it helps inspire you as well.

Many of our past social justice victories are beautifully interrelated. Lawyers have the chance to see this clearly in the chain of Supreme Court precedent. The decision in Roe v. Wade rested upon Loving v. Virginia, a landmark civil rights victory establishing an interracial couple’s right to marry. Loving helped cement a right to marital privacy, which underpins Roe’s right to reproductive privacy. Today, this same line of cases is helping establish a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples.

We achieved so much historically, but too often separately, not working collaboratively as one united social justice movement with common interests. Imagine how much more we could accomplish now if we unite together!

We still face very real racial justice and reproductive justice challenges today, challenges that sometimes feel insurmountable. As a result, too often these anniversaries cause many to long for the political momentum and grassroots support during what is perceived as the hey day of these movements decades ago. Rather than coming away discouraged, we must be reinvigorated to build upon our proud history, this time paving the way forward together!

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