I believe Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision is as needed in the 21st Century as it was needed in the 20th century. His vision of civil rights as a pathway to social justice needs to become the driving force for each and every American if we truly believe in a future lived with dignity and fulfillment.
Dr. King inspires us and makes us believe that we have a say in our future and in the future of every American, regardless of ethnicity, race, or religion. He enabled us to have faith in a future where the voice of everyone will be heard equally — black and white, men and women, rich and poor, native born and immigrant, the powerful and the struggling. If we march shoulder to shoulder we can make Dr. King’s vision a reality and we will reach the top of the mountain.
As President Obama said in his last State of the Union address:
We live in a time of extraordinary change — change that’s reshaping the way we live… It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. Martin Luther King taught us that it is up to us to ensure that inequality is not widened but narrowed and eliminated. He taught us that fighting in a nonviolent way for the rights of the underprivileged, the poor, the less fortunate, those who are different than us but equal to us, makes us better human beings and unleashes in us the power of improving the world.
Dr. King’s vision was so powerful that it rallied millions and moved mountains.
It takes faith to believe in such a vision.
It takes commitment and perseverance to work for social justice.
Social Justice is brought about by:
Once we collaborate in deepening our understanding of the principles of social justice and once we commit to working on all its components, we collectively put ourselves on the path of a better future.
Fighting for social justice requires an insistent and persistent spirit that cannot be put off.
Our paradigm must include a commitment to non-violence, non-discrimination, and a mindset that regards all religions, ethnicities, and individuals with respect and appreciation.
As we work towards making sure that Dr. King’s dream becomes fully realized, we will be earning our right to belong to a society that can become a role model for all other nations, a society that can become the shining star above that mountain top.
Through upholding civil rights, through ensuring social justice, we will shape a future where everyone will be given the opportunity to live the simple, uncomplicated truth that we are all created equal; that we are all contributors to a better future, and that each of us is essential to the advancement of all humanity.
The pathway to reach the seemingly elusive goal of social justice — the top of the mountain — includes several important actions or steps, fourteen to be exact. These are:
When we are not afraid to work and fight for these principals, a better future unfolds. As Martin Luther King said:
The great stumbling block in the fight towards freedom is the moderate person who is more devoted to “order” than justice and who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
Nelson Mandela said:
Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.
Let us become the new visionaries and the new architects of a future where the lives of Black, Hispanic, Middle Easterners, Asian, and White people are all equally valued. How can we not?
Let us agree to continue the march of Martin Luther King by committing to making a difference, by working towards social justice, and by removing the obstacles of inequality.
Let us recognize that we are totally interconnected and that it is sufficient to have one group that is not free, that is not treated with justice, for all of us not to be free.
Only then, can we truly celebrate what Martin Luther King taught us, and only then his teachings will continue to shape a better future for all.