I can’t begin to fathom a time where I couldn’t sit at a lunch counter, share a water fountain, or ride a bus with a friend. These were not unwritten rules, guidelines or suggestions, they were explicit regulations plastered across our towns and cities supported by the public servants of our local, state and federal government. It wasn’t just a small group of radicals confined to a limited geography. It was a more universal mindset that was enabled and ultimately defended by the law. Fear and ignorance clouded our judgement and dimmed the light of our own humanity.
Today, I continue to think about a man who chose peace over violence, unity over discord and love over hate. He rose above the unspeakable to remind us that while we may look different, we are the same. He was the catalyst for a movement that reminded a generation of what they should have already known, if they really listened to their hearts.
Sadly, fifty years after his death, we are still finding the need to remind ourselves. While the hardest charge may be complete, the work is not yet done. It’s our responsibility to remember and extend forward our persistent belief that it will get better because of us making it better.
A great man gave it all.
You may ask, what can I do?
I say plenty.
Let’s all step forward with a little kindness. Let’s listen to our fellow human beings. Really listen. Let’s love a little more. Let’s lead with a sincere appreciation of our history and the foundations our heroes have put forth. Let’s trust each other a little more. Let’s believe in ourselves, our communities and our true potential. Let’s move with purpose. Let’s educate ourselves and patiently share with others. Let’s live by the terms that feed our soul. Let’s act with our minds and our hearts. Let’s find ways to give back with our unique abilities and special talents. Let’s speak up when we witness injustice. Let’s fight the urge to turn our heads when it’s time to lean in. Pluralistic ignorance is not an excuse. Let’s put small actions to big work.
We can carry it forward together.
Let’s give a little more … not just today, but everyday.
The time is always right.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.