MLK Day 2013: The Meaning of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy

Before us, there were people who had already put forth their all so that we may live in a world filled with more peace and less hatred. And though evil still lives, these people knocked a huge dent in our fight for equality. Some of these men, women, and even children paid the ultimate price for their freedom, the freedom of their generation, and the freedom of generations to come. Among the countless humans of all races and creeds that worked tirelessly for equality was a man who was determined to make a change in a non-violent way. Even though evil took Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. away, his message was one of peace, togetherness, and service. This is a message that should never be forgotten.

Up until Dr. King's untimely passing on April 4, 1968, he had dedicated his life to helping others. Though he had grown up in segregated Atlanta, it wasn't until his years at Morehouse College that he realized he should follow in his father's footsteps and become a minister. In 1955, he earned his doctorate in systematic theology, and that same year he was chosen by the NAACP as the protest leader and official spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. From that moment on, he was all about promoting equality and God's love for all people. Though he, his family, and fellow followers were on every KKK members' his list, he continued to speak. He feared only God and saw only freedom for all people.

MLK Day is a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service and volunteering. Since this year's MLK Day falls during the Presidential Inauguration, President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama are asking every American to participate in National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19. All across the country there will be clean ups, food drives, and other types of service events to lend a hand. The events aren't hard to find, and an extra helping hand is always welcome. Taking one day to open up your heart could change your life forever. If President and First Lady Obama can roll up their sleeves for their fellow man, what's stopping us from doing the same?

Though my African-American daughter and her biracial best friend are free to hit the playground with children of all ethnicities, we've still got a good way to go before we're as free as Dr. King envisioned us in his unforgettable I Have a Dream speech. Racism and inequality aren't tolerated anymore, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. People used to come together just to make sure that we all were for a fair shot in life. Nowadays, you can barely get a stranger to hold a door for you. Helping your fellow man used to be the thing to do, but now volunteer work is considered punishment. The Newtown shooting shouldn’t have had to to happen in order for #26Acts to be implemented. 

Dr. King spoke of togetherness and service, two things that hardly come around unless something bad happens. Why must evil come in order for good to come about? When will we begin to serve just because it's the right thing to do? I'd like to say thank you to Dr. King and all those who came before me. My life wouldn't be what it is today without the path that you all laid.               

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Ursula Brantley

My name is Ursula Brantley and I'm a 27-year-old single mother from Shreveport, LA. Ever since I was young, I've loved writing and the older I became the more I realized that I'm actually pretty good at it. I believe that every young person should be educated about the world around them. The world is moving and changing so fast. We're the future of this one world so we must be on top of our game, but of course, with our own twist. We're such a diverse generation and we should use our diversity to our advantage and change the world.

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