These days, Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings are often distilled down to feel-good messages preaching peace, universal love, and non-violence. Though he is now widely loved and respected, during his lifetime, King was regarded as a radical, a man who was making revolutionary connections between poverty, racism, and global violence. A man who was espousing ideas that were far beyond his time and far beyond the mainstream. A man who was dangerous, for he challenged entrenched norms and prejudices, pulling at the threads of our imbalanced social fabric.
No matter how many times “I Have a Dream” gets printed on bumper stickers and tote bags and coffee mugs, we must remember: The work is not done. One need only read the daily news with a discerning eye to see that prejudice, racism, and oppression still thrive in our society. Rather than look to Dr. King as a symbol of past victories, we must find in his legacy the inspiration and motivation to carry on the work and the movement he gave his life for. We cannot rest easy.
The work is not done.