Dr. King Is Waiting

Cross posted from Politic 365

(A three-part series refocusing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement)

Every year on the third Monday in January we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honor Dr. King’s life and leadership.  Although this recognition is a testament to how far our country has come since the civil rights era, it should also serve as a reminder that our country has a long way to go to truly achieve the just society Dr. King envisioned.  When the Martin Luther King Day of Service was created in 1994, it was a step in the right direction, as the initiative turned the holiday into a day of volunteerism and community service. This was a well intended idea indeed, but wouldn’t Dr. King look for us to commemorate his legacy with social justice action as opposed to just social service?

I’m certain that Dr. King would have asked us to advocate and agitate to achieve the victories still needed to improve our communities and honor his legacy.  As a man of big ideas and grand gestures, Dr. King and many others used principles of nonviolence to achieve in one decade the civil rights victories that had eluded our people for nearly a century.  And yet, 25 years after MLK day was first observed as a federal holiday, many people choose to recognize the day in a manner in which Dr. King didn’t necessarily live his life.  In the days leading up to Dr. King’s death, he was in Memphis to support and advocate on behalf of Black sanitation workers that were striking to receive their civil and labor rights.   In Dr. King’s last speech, the day before his untimely death, he gave notice to us then and now as to his vision on how we should move forward: