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The Legacy of Dr. MLK Jr.’s Words: A Celebration and Reflection in 2017

By Imara Bright-Johnson, Contributing Writer
Posted 11:05 PM EST, Thurs., Jan. 19, 2017

“But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.” – “I Have a Dream” Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

Dr. King’s words still hold truth. In 2017, the color of our skin and the texture of our hair are still a crucial determinants of our human value. Even with 154 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Brown and Black skin are still seen as unworthy and unappealing. The fight for equal opportunities in the workplace, the right to hold government positions and shop in public places without being stereotyped and followed by management continues.

In these times of doubt and disappointment, when an unfitting and discriminatory man has been elected to be president of the free world, we must remember the words of Dr. King. When our sisters and brothers are being racially profiled, shot and killed on the streets of numerous cities, we must reflect on the wisdom and hope that Dr. King brought to this world through his igniting speeches. Dr. King was a trendsetter and truly inspiring. His words encouraged many to take a stand and fight for what they deserved, and still deserve today. Every speech that he gave was strategized to encourage the stamina needed to fight this long fight.

We must never forget the impact that his words had, and still have today. Most importantly, we must remember to use his words to our advantage. The fight is still not over. As a people, we must celebrate one of the most monumental figures of our history. Without Dr. King and many other civil right leaders, we would not be where we are today. Although there is still a long journey ahead of us, celebrating Dr. King and other figures that came before us reminds us of our legacy in this fight–a history of activists shouting and insisting to the world that they are not alone. They weren’t; and with them behind us, we can’t be either.  


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