January 19, 2015
By Assemblyman Luis R. Sepulveda
A civil rights leader, community activist, humanitarian and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains a remarkable and influential figure. As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 19, it is important to remember Dr. King’s legacy and how we can continue to honor it with our actions.
In the words of Dr. King himself, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” It is up to us as individuals to follow his lead and embrace his values as we work for the betterment of others and our community as a whole.
Addressing inequality ingrained in society, Dr. King gave a voice to those who needed it the most, tirelessly advocating for civil rights and social justice. He encouraged change through peace and discourse, respect and unity, and he remained committed to these principles. In 1964, Dr. King became, at the time, the youngest recipient of the Noble Peace Prize. His work was integral to the passage of such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Though his life was cut tragically short in 1968, his philosophy and vision live on.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Dr. King. These words ring as true today as they did nearly 50 years ago. Although strides have been made in the fight for equality and social and economic justice throughout our state and our nation, there are still many problems we cannot ignore. As Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In facing and dealing with these issues head on, we must act as Dr. King did. By acknowledging our problems and working together, we can enact positive change and restore trust. Only by working together, can we achieve this important work.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only a time to reflect on the tremendous achievements of a remarkable man and national hero, but also a day to think about our own actions and how we can contribute to bringing Dr. King’s vision to life today. It’s a vision to embrace as we address those concerns of humanity and rise above the differences that divide us.