Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pursued equality and understanding through non-violent actions, peaceful assembly and powerful rhetoric. He helped inspire a nation to take an honest look at itself and begin the work required to ensure all are treated with respect, dignity and compassion. Too many of us forget the bravery and courage it took Dr. King to confront bigotry and intolerance.
We should remember with equal amounts of pride and disdain the struggles Dr. King and his colleagues endured to correct terrible injustices perpetrated on people simply because of their skin color. Americans celebrate Dr. King’s birthday each year because he epitomizes the sacrifice it sometimes takes to make this society a better place to live. America is fortunate to have known such a brave soul.
As a state and as a nation, we have made tremendous strides accepting diversity as a beneficial influence on our society. Dr. King undoubtedly would be proud of the progress we have made. Only two years ago, the United States elected the first African-American president – Barack Obama – in its relatively short history as a nation. We should all be proud of this progress.
But we cannot rest on our laurels because we have much more injustice to overcome. One only has to look at his or her own community to see poverty, ignorance and intolerance. That’s why we need to stay focused on wiping out the root causes of these problems. By providing more jobs to our communities, ensuring all our children attend good schools and being more compassionate in our treatment of others, we can make even more progress in stamping out injustice.
Despite huge obstacles, Dr. King persevered in his fight for equality. He demanded that we live together in peace, prosperity and mutual respect. Although we have come a long way since Dr. King’s tragic assassination on April 4, 1968, America’s journey to better itself is far from over. Divisive political debates still rage in Congress and in state legislatures across the country on a wide range of topics, many of which underscore our unsatisfactory treatment of people and their differing cultures and values.
If Dr. King were alive today, he would want us to move past our differences and find common ground so we could continue bettering ourselves, our communities and our nation. I, for one, believe in that dream Dr. King spoke of nearly 50 years ago from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He implored us to be a nation where our children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” As we celebrate the memory of Dr. King today, let’s all reinforce our efforts to ensure ‘all of God’s children’ can be ‘free at last’ to pursue our dreams.”