Reflecting on Martin Luther King’s federal holiday, I remember the many black history day speeches we echoed in our schools and churches as a child. Threatened by the piercing eyes and commando looks from teachers and church leaders, we dared not make any mistakes on the “I Have A Dream” speech. The American history is replete with many human sacrifices made to give Black Americans the right to vote. Today, we must search within to rekindle this unquenchable passion displayed during the civil rights movement. I challenge us with two questions for today.
Today, is our vision beyond selfies? Have we latched on to a cause for humanity greater than ourselves? Have we committed time and money? Or do we only have a vision related to self? Recently, I marveled at a young lady taking nearly 30 pictures of herself with her smartphone at a NBA game. It made me ponder what direction are we heading. The Oscar nominated movie, SELMA, engages a pivotal period in the Civil Rights movement, and showcases how a clear vision can propel a nation to higher ideals. In health care, we here this clarion vision towards affordable healthcare and equitable access to health services for all. Some would argue this is solely an individual responsibility. I challenge us to see beyond ourselves. I challenge us to speak out against exorbitant costs of medications and healthcare. Dr. King exemplified how vision demands sacrifice beyond our own self-worth.
Are we walking down Martin Luther King Boulevard? Are you serious, don’t you know MLK Boulevard is in the ‘hood? Walking as a collective body for a common goal has an incredible psychological power as demonstrated in France recently to protest terrorist activity. Watching the movie SELMA, I cringed in my seat during the scenes when the civil rights marchers walked in the face of police dogs, tear gas and billy-clubs from law enforcement. On this federal holiday, I encourage you to walk, ride or drive down the MLK street in your city. Take mental and emotional inventory of the faces and lives you encounter during your trip. Hopefully, the trip inspires you to walk for greater causes that impact the community. As the proverbial saying goes, “don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.”
Stevie Wonder’s legendary song, “Happy Birthday”, was written to commemorate MLK Day. But many sing this song today to celebrate loved ones’ birthdays. However, let us remember the true intent of the song, strengthening our resolve to a broader vision to equitable and affordable healthcare for all. May our feet lead us to walk with softer hearts towards all races, genders, nationalities and sexual orientations in our society while singing “…And the whole day should be spent, in full remembrance of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people. Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You (Dr. Martin Luther King).”