MLK Day: Why Dr. King’s Message Is Important Today

by | Jan 17, 2022

Though I’m sure many of us are looking forward to their day off from work or classes in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, I think it’s important to acknowledge that though we have come a long way thanks to those who came before us, we still have a long way to go and it’s up to us to make Dr. King’s dream a reality. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was born 93 years ago on January 15, 1929. Born Michael King Jr originally, the man we celebrate today wouldn’t get the Martin Luther portion of his name until the age of five after his father, Michael King Sr. traveled to Germany and was inspired by Martin Luther. An early telling that Dr. King would go on to do extraordinary things, he is admitted to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia at the tender age of 15.  Many are most familiar with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream ” speech that was delivered on August 28, 1963, where King discussed his wants of a world with equality in which Black Americans weren’t treated less than White Americans. 

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. King and those working with as well as supporting him throughout the civil rights era, we can live in a country where individuals are afforded equal opportunities no matter the race, ethnicity, or background. I believe it’s important to know where we’ve come from to have a better understanding of where we want and need to be going. Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech depicted what King imagined for America, what he knew America could be. 

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” 

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

It’s important to acknowledge that though America has had its positive strides in the right direction, it isn’t without flaws. America has had what seems like a surge in protesting these past few years, many with the purpose to bring justice for police brutality toward black individuals. The Black Lives Matter organization has had one of the largest movements in US history, with followings all over the country, being picked up in other countries as well. King practiced the act of peaceful protesting, and we see this being emulated frequently in today’s protests as well. 

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.”

“One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

These words still ring true today and this is why it’s important that we commit to doing our part to foster the most inclusive community we can, focusing on treating each other with kindness instead of with prejudice and hatred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s ultimate message was that we aren’t equal until every person is treated and respected equally as well. This is the main underlying message when speaking in terms of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The goal is for everyone to be treated equally and fairly.

Those coworkers you don’t speak to? Try getting to know them. That person you sit next to in class? Try sparking up a conversation. The first step in everyone being treated equally is removing those stereotypes and biases we have but won’t acknowledge. While you have this MLK day off, you can even take some time to think about those you can help. If you truly want to honor Martin Luther King Jr, you should do so by being a servant leader just as he was. Consider volunteering at a shelter for the day or writing cards for nursing homes! You may even meet some new and interesting people in the process. 

By Alex Williams

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