Today we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr day. We celebrate this day because on the 15th, 92 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was born. 

He is, of course, most famous for for his monumental speech known to us today as his “I Have A Dream” speech. There are some key points that are often overlooked, and are very applicable today. 

Even as Dr. King mourned that “the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years [after the Emancipation Proclamation …] the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.“ He saw the solution in the foundation and rule of law already in place. That foundation wasn’t the unjust laws and courts that were currently in place, but something that was before all those. Something that, “[i]n a sense” was “com[ing] to our nation’s capital to cash a check.” Namely, that “[w]hen the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.“ He said, truly, that it was obvious that that check had been defaulted. But he ends with hope, saying “we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” This was why they were willing to be thrown in jail, willing to be persecuted, willing to be “veterans of creative suffering”: because they believed that they could, and would, be able to cash this check, that America -Americans- would be able to live up to their rich, promising, heritage. 

Dr King warns that “[w]e must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” I feel like we need a lot more soul force today, no matter who we are. With a lot of physical force, a lot of degeneration on many fronts, a lot of bitterness and hatred, the solution is for each of us, individually, to develop soul force. To emulate Martin Luther King. 

Of course, the part of his speech in which he proclaims “I have a dream today!” is super powerful, super inspiring. My favorite part of his dream is when he says “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” To look past the superficiality of how we look to how and what we are. Again, this is something we need today. 

 He ends with a cry that I echo today: Let Freedom Ring. With Dr. King, I believe that “if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.” With Dr. King, when we let freedom ring from every mountainside -from our mountainside- we speed up the day when we can all “join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”