Don't just quote Dr. King. Honor him with actions.

Martin Luther King Day should remind us that he was the king of the dream for justice and equality for Black people and all of humanity. A dream for principles that has yet to be realized.

This blog post was written by Cynthia, a staff member.

Yesterday, the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day, with programs, services, and community engagements that cited his many speeches. But it should not be a day when we just quote King and actions of the past. Martin Luther King Day should remind us that he was the king of the dream for justice and equality for Black people and all of humanity. A dream for principles that has yet to be realized.

On August 28, 1963, he stood in the National Mall and gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Today, I still carry that speech in my heart, engraved in my mind, and regurgitating from my mouth.

I dream that one day Black people will not be judged by the color of their skin. I am a proud Black woman. My ancestors were beaten, dragged and lynched for a dream that one day Black people would walk around free, have the same opportunities as anyone else, and, most of all, be recognized as human beings and not property. Four hundred years later, we are still fighting to be valued based on our intelligence and character, have our voices heard, and be allowed to prosper. It is our right as humans. I dream that we will no longer be judged by the color of our skin and how strong our backs were to work in the fields and build this country that was once said to be the great United States of America. From the view of a Black person like me, it never was a land of liberty and freedom.

With tears in my eyes, I recall Ahmaud Arbery on a familiar jog being chased and gunned down in a white neighborhood because he was Black. I recall the list of Black people murdered by police, people like Marcus-David Peters who was having a mental health crisis, or Breonna Taylor who was sleeping in her own bedroom. Daily, I find not a single case where the legal system gives justice to our Black people. Too often, I find headlines about racial disparities in every sector of our society, at every step along the way. The system is working exactly as it was designed—to keep our Black people in chains.

So, where are we now, 400 years after the first enslaved Black people were brought to America? Are we free? Freedom is a loaded word.

I remember as a child being taught to love everyone for who they are and not what they looked like, but also recognize people who mean you harm. Four decades later, I watched with a gut-wrenching feeling as white insurrectionists with Confederate flags stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. I was overwhelmed with anger and sadness, then hopelessness. Eventually, I settled on resilience. I saw thousands of people showing their fear of an equitable society and of losing their white privilege. But most of all, I saw the inequality of freedom. I cannot unsee the lack of police and military presence during a protest that was widely publicized online by hate groups, with a high probability of violence, against an election that did not give them the results that they wanted. Contrast that with the massive force that was presented as protestors marched for the basic human rights for Black and Brown people. Our work is not done.

So, where are we now, 400 years after the first enslaved Black people were brought to America? Are we free? Freedom is a loaded word.

Are we treated as equals? No. Were we ever? No.

We have not conquered that mountain. But we have made progress. As long we remain resilient and continue to move with the forces of our souls, I believe we can win this fight. I have a dream.

Who has the power to dictate our pursuit of happiness? I have a dream.

Our work is not done as systemic racism has been allowed to trade chains for racist laws and systems that continue to oppress Black people in our fight for Black liberation. We are still fighting for our votes to count, for our people be free, and for our children to be able to live up to their full potential. I have a dream.