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Advancing and achieving the dream

1/8/2014, 4:28 p.m.
How will you advance the dream?

By John L. Horton If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive, he would have turned 85 on Jan. 15.

Since his death in 1968, so much has changed … and yet, so much has remained the same. Accordingly, we must continue to “live the dream.”

We must continue to honor King’s memory and legacy by becoming reacquainted with his fight for social justice and economic equity.

Sometimes I wonder, if he were alive, what would King think about how things have gone in the African American community? What would he say? What would he do?

I am sure that King would encourage us to resolve the social and economic challenges that buffet us. He would remind us of individual responsibility, family stability, group cohesion and collective empowerment. And, he would remind us that many of the answers and solutions lie within us as a people.

King also would encourage us to show a willingness to know something, to be smart, to be curious and to be willing to learn and accomplish a lot more. While the world we inhabit may not be all fair or just, we must be willing to try, and try, and try. We must learn to give life our utmost effort and perform at our maximum capacity.

If King were alive, he would motivate and encourage us to put our minds and backs into the obstacles and barriers before us. He would remind us that we are the “masters of our fates” and the “captains of our souls.” Further, King would preach and teach about PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Daily Efforts). And, he would inspire us with the 10 most powerful words on the planet: “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

Just as importantly, King would espouse an understanding that these challenging tasks and complicated issues cannot be easily overcome or quickly accomplished, but that they can be done.

And, he would remind us to always remember that we are standing on the backs and shoulders of those who have gone before us. Therefore, we must continue the “good fight,” for failure is not an option.

For example, we can measure literacy and education improvement, employment and income enhancement, criminal activity and abstinence from drugs, personal and familial betterment, and other similar issues of importance that debilitate us in this new millennium.

One of the most sage and eloquent statements ever uttered by King illustrates this reality: “The most dangerous person in the world is one who is sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid. You have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.”

If King were alive, he would stress the need for building a foundation of empowerment for teaching individuals, families and communities how to tap the power within, rather than depending on handouts and the goodwill of others. Accordingly, he would emphasize the importance of family as the original and best departments of health, education, welfare, and salvation.

How I wish King were still alive! But, he’s not. However, his teachings, sacrifices and contributions will always be with us. Therefore, let us draw from his legacy and achieve his “dream” for all of us. What a great way to show respect and appreciation for the man.

Long live the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.! Long live the dream! Better yet, let us advance the dream by achieving the dream.

John L. Horton is a retired Marine sergeant major and a retired juvenile probation officer. He lives in Norfolk.