Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work at the start of this tumultuous year has given me the courage and energy to keep my hand on the plow and fight for the well-being and self-determination of those who believe in the promise of liberty and justice for all.
Often reduced to a simple dream, Dr. King's life and work represent the full tapestry of our collective fight for freedom for all people, particularly Black and brown people and poor people, who have been excluded from—or pushed to the margins of—our economy and democracy. Through his work, from voting and civil rights to economic justice, Dr. King clearly identified with moral clarity the perpetrators of systemic racism, agents of injustice, and those complicit and complacent with the status quo. And Dr. King declared the urgency of now in what should be our collective fight for liberation. The matter is still urgent, my friends.
As we work to dismantle enduring systemic barriers that keep so many people from realizing their own dreams, Dr. King’s gospel of freedom and his call for love, dignity and humanity continues to ring true today.
As we work to dismantle enduring systemic barriers that keep so many people from realizing their own dreams, Dr. King’s gospel of freedom and his call for love, dignity and humanity continues to ring true today. Whether a parent desires to send their child to a high-quality, well-resourced neighborhood public school, or a worker wants to secure a job that pays a livable wage so they can afford their basic necessities and help save for a rainy day, these common hopes are out of reach for far too many.
And to achieve a more just future, Dr. King recognized the necessity of building power to move agendas, activate the collective power of the people, and agitate and inform public policy so that it could be meted out fairly for everyone. His legacy—and that of his wife Coretta Scott King—is a steady reminder that our power is necessary to shape our society.
As we embrace the challenge ahead, I am reminded of Dr. King’s reflection on power.
Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice.
This moment requires us to strategize and rally the collective power of the people to build the political, civic, and economic power necessary to support our vision.
Dr. King’s words are a mandate for we who believe in freedom, equity, and justice. This moment requires us to strategize and rally the collective power of the people to build the political, civic, and economic power necessary to support our vision.
We cannot wait for those who try to dictate when it is our time to be free, who promote revisionist history, gaslight us, and tell us nothing is wrong with the inequality we see. We must remain courageous and steadfast. Dr. King’s words in Letter from Birmingham Jail reminded me that the gains achieved during the civil rights movement came about through legal and nonviolent pressure.
It’s always a good time to re-read (or for read for the first time) the Letter from Birmingham Jail to capture the essence of his prophetic and timeless voice.
And as important as it is for us to remember, we must also engage and resist.
With so much happening in our world today, my hope for you and those you hold dear is that you realize your deepest dreams and aspirations, that your pursuit of purpose and meaning brings you joy and fulfillment, and that you flourish and thrive.
As you do your own reflection, I hope you are reaffirmed by Dr. King’s prophetic vision, determination, and commitment to building the power to uplift all families and communities. Our team remains firmly committed to building a multiracial, just, and inclusive democracy and economy—carrying Dr. King’s legacy forward.