Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream endures to this day

Published 8:14 am Monday, January 20, 2020

The third Monday in January is set aside to honor the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is more than just a holiday. It’s a day of service.
After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 to mark the birthday of Dr. King as a federal holiday. With it being a holiday, you’ll likely have the day off from work or school, but we encourage you to make it more than just another day off, and instead find a way to serve your community.
In 1994, Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each third Monday in January, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a “day on, not a day off,” states CNCS. This day of service helps to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, address social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
Why serve on MLK Day? Dr. King recognized the power of service. He famously said, “Everyone can be great because everybody can serve.” Observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place. Your service honors Dr. King’s life and teachings and helps meet community challenges. Service also brings people together of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had so many dreams. Service was just one of them.
In his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned a culture that did not judge race. People would treasure freedom for all from “the heightening Alleghenies” Pennsylvania to “the snow-capped Rookies of Colorado.”
King’s message was simple. In fact, it was rooted in the American ideal: equality, opportunity and justice for all. Not just on paper or in theory. Not just among the races or in the courtroom, but among all people and among all economic levels.
He believed that all human beings, regardless of color, creed or economic status, had value and deserved both dignity and respect.
King wanted equal opportunity — with rules that reward character. He could not possibly have wished for today’s divisive identity politics or a shifting of bigotry from one demographic to another.
A young Baptist preacher, husband, and father of four, born in Atlanta, King was swept up into a national movement to end discrimination. He dedicated his life to the fight for freedom, equality, and justice for all.
Still, were King alive today, he would not abandon his vision for America. Far from it. While he preached as an idealist, King had a pragmatic side. He was a masterful political tactician. Political disappointment, setbacks, even jail time only motivated him to work harder.
An assassin cut him down. But his dream for America is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. To those who believe in it, this is a time more than ever to follow King’s lead and redouble nonviolent efforts to make it a reality.
We should not only remember Dr. King this holiday, but also his message: equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

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