This past Monday marked the celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who gave of himself unselfishly. He devoted his life to the fight for civil rights and equality for all. He led a movement that forever changed American society (and the world). His is a legacy that left an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of millions. His current depiction however, seems to have many people believing the “I Have a Dream” speech is the only reason why we honor him.
As many leaders before and after him, King was a complex man. People seem to have forgotten, or they simply don’t know, just how much he (and many other civil rights activists) did for us. How hard the battle was. How in the face of adversity he remained steadfast. He was a man with a mission – a calling if you will. He was committed to the cause. Determined to do all that was necessary to bring about change in a society that was plagued (and still is) with social ills. My words here, I admit, even fail to do King justice. But it pains me to see his life and his contributions being whittled down to the “I Have a Dream” speech.
If King were alive, I do wonder what his thoughts would be about our society today. In many ways it seems as if we’ve turned into what he feared the most – a divided society. The haves and the have-nots. The rich and the poor. The well-educated and the poorly-educated. White and Black. Or White and Everybody Else. The very things he was fighting against are the things that separate us. With all this talk about “change” – let’s see which of the current presidential candidates will actually stop talking about it and be about it. Martin Luther King, along with many other activists and leaders of his day, set the tone. If you’re going to name drop and throw out the “change rhetoric” then you need back it up with action. Only time will tell if any of the candidates (and any us) truly see the light.