The best way to honor our ancestors and those who are no longer with us is to embody their best and most admirable traits. This Monday, as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should do so by embodying his dreams and continuing his work toward ensuring justice for all. Dr. King is someone I have admired since learning about him as a child.
Dr. King made an indelible impact on the world through his commitment to service to others. We can also do this by keeping in mind the fact that we lift ourselves highest when we uplift others.
He combatted hate with purposeful and intentional acts of love.
He demonstrated empathy to the plight of people of all walks of life as he sought first to understand the ways in which we are more drawn together by our commonalities than our difference. We can do this by seeking to listen and understand as much as we want to be heard and understood.
Study and education were at the forefront of his work and success as he graduated high school early and attained the highest graduate degree possible. We can maintain this focus by ensuring educational excellence, equity and opportunity for all kids and making sure their zip code is not a threat to their futures.
He defied negative public opinion, discrimination, and racism with unshakable persistence in the face of the threat of harm and death. We can continue to do this by staying the course even when it is not popular, by standing up for what is right and equitable, even if we must stand alone and by denouncing any practice, speech, person or policy that seeks to undermine democracy and inclusion.
Dr. King had a dream that we have not yet realized. But as the right leaders emerge and continue the fight for equity, justice, access, and equality, we move ever closer to doing so. The life and legacy of Dr. King lives on through those of us who have picked up the torch where he laid it down.
In his final speech before his assassination, he spoke of having been to the mountaintop but hinted that he might not get there with us but assured us that we can and will get there. As I listened to that speech, I could not help but wonder what he might have known as his fate had been already decided. Whatever he knew, his words were intentional and pointed, serving as a call to action for those of us who would we left behind to continue his work. We should see his words and service as light to the path ahead and his life as being the leg of the relay he was chosen to run. It's our turn now to continue the race and keep the fight and faith. We honor him and all of our ancestors as we work to make sure that we are all free at last.