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Martin Luther King

Lessons from Martin Luther King Jr. for All of Us that Have a Dream

| Angela Naff |

Today is the holiday in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr., a voice for equality cut short while attempting to change the world. He was a leading and visible force in the civil rights movement fighting for blacks’ rights in his day to be allowed in desegregated restrooms, schools, and other public places. He sought voting rights, labor equality, and other fair treatment for so many that were not given such freedoms despite living here in the United States.

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for peaceful, nonviolent protesting and civil disobedience in keeping with his strong religiously influenced beliefs. While it has now been over fifty years since he was assassinated for his message, his vision for us all resonates still. We have not attained the ‘Dream’ that he famously invoked during one of his more memorable speeches, despite so many continuing the fight that he was part of leading in his day. He has, however, provided a shining example of how one human can change the world.

Go out and ask anyone from elderly patients in retirement homes to kids in school who Martin Luther King Jr. was, and in some form or fashion, they will have an answer. Yes, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from 1964 that won the distinction for his numerous nonviolent organized marches and vocal stance on equality is not someone who faded into oblivion. His message still resides in the hearts and minds of those who have taken up the mantle continuing to battle for equality for so many individuals. What he did teach us, though, is a lesson that all can take to heart.

One man can change the world with his words alone. One idea can spark a movement, and most of all, some wars are never single battle short-lived episodes. The war for equality still rages through such outlets as the Black Lives Matter movement and other endeavors for additionally minimalized populations. These efforts require long, dedicated fights with people invested in carrying the torch forward. Single acts build upon others to equal change – real change. Most of all, if we have learned anything in the last year, violent reactions to inequality are not effective and bring devastating results.

Change is sparked by inspiration, and a word or a single phrase can spark that passion. “I have a dream,” Martin Luther Jr said in one of his most famous speeches. He believed that the color of a person’s skin, background, or where they came from should not dictate their treatment. All are free and should be afforded similar rights and privileges; this is a foundation on which the United States has been founded, and many fought to maintain. We all can keep this foremost in our mind when interacting with people that might not look, act, talk, or believe like us.

The country is a melting pot of individuals from varied countries, backgrounds, and social situations. We should all dream of a day where violence due to inequality ends, and we live in peaceful co-existence with our neighbors – whoever they may be. The true, lasting, and unequivocal change did not come in Martin Luther King’s lifetime, nor may it in ours. That truth should not stop any one of us in small or large ways from trying to treat everyone equally and for this single day at least, memorializing one amazing voice that changed our world. Give a moment of silence today to remember this amazing change agent who all this time later continues to inspire us all!

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photo

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