martin luther king jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. via

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a legend. I especially esteem the memory and ministry of Dr. King because learning about him made me feel proud of my history and heritage. Studying his life “had me feeling like Black was the thing to be” in the words of the late, great Tupac Shakur.

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King this month, we also celebrate his contributions to the progress of the Black race in the 1960s. Unquestionably, we have made great advancements, but have we arrived? Has Dr. King’s dream of racial harmony and equality been realized? Is the struggle over? I insist that the answer to all of these questions is no!

Some people will argue that Barack Obama‘s inauguration one day after the 2009 King Holiday was a symbol that Dr. King’s dream had finally come true. But I disagree. There is a difference between the fulfillment of a dream and the furtherance of a dream. There is a distinction between the arrival of a people and the advancement of a people. Have we come a long way? Sure. Have we arrived? No. Are African American people living under better conditions now than we were a half a century ago? Yes. But do race, class, and gender still play a role in cases of discrimination in America today? If King were alive today, I don’t think anyone would be telling him that his dream has been realized. In fact, I think he would still be fighting for justice and equality.

Think about the conditions of the Black community. What would King say about senseless murders in our communities? What would he say about Black on Black crime? What would he say about the number of single parent homes? What would he say about the divorce rate? Drug infested ghettos? Teenage pregnancies? The increasing dropout rate among high school boys? What would he say about racism, discrimination, police brutality, and racial profiling? I dare say that Dr. King would not be pleased with the state of the Black community today. As long as there are discriminatory practices in higher education and corporations, the dream has not been realized. As long as there is overcrowding in highly concentrated urban schools, the dream has not been realized. Until young teens understand that there are consequences to their actions, whether its sexual intercourse, drug use, gang activity, or wasted opportunities, the dream has not been realized. When this nation is more concerned with foreign policy than fighting poverty in our own backyard, the dream has not been realized. If our nation is more concerned with incarceration than education, the fulfillment of King’s dream a long ways off in the distance.

I challenge you to do your part in bringing King’s dream to fulfillment. Ask the questions that he would ask and to do the things that he would do. Become the leader that you admire in him. Receive the baton of leadership and represent the people who need you the most: the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, and the needy. I am going to commit myself to doing the same thing, but don’t wait for me to do it. I may not make it. Don’t wait for King to come back, because it’s not going to happen. You must do it. And you must start today and start where you are. Look around you. See what changes you can make in your community. See how you can represent the voiceless. Because if you don’t do it, who will? If you don’t do something, what will become of our communities? What will become of us?

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