Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man that was moved by the spirit to move a nation toward a better way of life. Dr. King was a man that used his connection to the Holy Spirit to dare to have the dream. At the same time, my fellow Americans, he also had action items, and without action items — along with a network of leaders and fellow dreamers — we would not have a MLK Day each year and chances are that we would not have the expression of civil rights that we enjoy today. Therefore, I come to you with action items to further Dr. King's dream and ask that we honor the man and his memory with more than just talk of dreams.
Our time to continue his accomplishments and dream is right now.
Without the sustained march toward realizing the fullest details of King's dream, we are hampered in our march toward bettering our fellow man. Although we are capable and encouraged to help the victims in Haiti through the epic tragedy they are incurring, we are limited in restoring their communities if we lag behind in our societal, educational and economic potential here in America. Although it is best to encourage and mentor our schoolchildren today with the pursuits of their youth, we are limited in leading our children into a prosperous future if we impede our discipline, communicative channels and networking relationships that could make the difference in their lives with limiting stereotypes, outdated misunderstandings, and esteem for others and ourselves. Although we are free from slavery, Jim Crow, and many glass ceilings from the American past, we are boxed into probabilities of failure and disappointment if we are not willing to actively work toward being freer than the previous generation, healthier than we were just a year ago, and better than we were just yesterday.
Dr. King worked aside a network of leaders and everyday Americans. He came at a time when America needed a dream — a new vision for what the United States could be once united past the impediments of racism and self-limitations. He came with a dream that talked about his children being equal but spoke to America about opening up its potential to becoming a superpower of wealth, might and ethical esteem throughout the world by shedding its racism of the past and embracing the moment to be historic.
It is time for us to even the scores of our schoolchildren with others as they have fallen behind other American children in the classroom. It is time to demand better facilities, better teachers and better school options with our tax money. A better educated child will be a more active citizen in our communities and a source of pride for black America as an adult.
It is time for us to even the scores in the job market, as African Americans are still more likely to be last-hired and first-fired. It is time to even the playing field, one that today sees that black men are twice as likely to be unemployed with college degrees as other American men with similar levels of education. It is time to ensure that equality is not just a slogan from the past, but it is an umbrella promise for the future for all Americans.
It is time for us to even the scores and lessen the rate of disease, disillusionment and even death at our own hands. It is time to even the scores within the fields of health care, crime and chivalry once again with other Americans. It is time for us to stop killing each other with our diets. It is time for us to stop killing each other with weapons. It is time to stop killing each other's esteem with disrespect for our women. It is time for black pride to rise up through teaching black love, black self-respect, black family unity and black chivalry, and stop speaking solely with a tone of blaming others, looking outside our communities for solutions, and embracing sub-standard realities for our children and grandchildren. King led the disadvantaged toward equality with self-empowerment. We must do the same today.
Dr. King spoke of a dream for all of America, but he knew that he would take action within black America for this dream to become reality. Therefore, if we are to take one thing from this MLK Day, I ask that it be this:
If Dr. King dared us to collectively dream along with him, we must now be called to collectively wake up to honor him.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act toward better educational opportunities for our children immediately. Do not allow the continuing failure of the school system in our communities to continue to be the box that limits our children's futures. The status quo of educational poverty must be replaced with a quid pro quo system that rewards educational freedom for our children and nothing else, not political allegiances or backroom deals that cut us out. Be involved as volunteers, as mentors and as civic activists so that our children receive an education, not just schooling.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act toward better quality of life within black America. Regardless of the health care fight in Washington, if we are unwilling to stop the violence against our bodies with our diets, with our physical confrontations, and with our inactivity, we will always stay behind the health care curve. Wake up to live lest we continue to die prematurely in our sleep. The time is now to change our daily habits so that we change our daily experiences.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act toward health care justice for black America, making sure that we are not the most murdered in the womb and the fastest to lay in the tomb.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act toward embracing economic opportunities, equality and prosperity in America. Embrace Americanism — economically, socially and historically — with tenacity and insight. This is your nation, too — fully.
There was a time for Dr. King to be historic and dream. It is now our time to be historic and wake up into action.
If you have not contributed or volunteered to improve our communities, do so now. If you already do contribute, thank you — for now, it is time for us to do more. We must be involved in educational changes, economic changes and personal changes daily if we are going to wake up from crisis and return to the highest pursuit of Dr. King's dream.
It was a time to dream. Now, it is time to wake up and DO!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave us a dream to chase after.
Now, we must wake up into action so that the American Dream — along with Dr. King's Dream — can become a greater reality for us all.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and occasional co-host of “Fox News Rising” in Charlotte, N.C. He was recently named visiting fellow for the Center of New Politics and Policy at the University of Denver. This is an excerpt from a speech that McAllister gave this month at a Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday celebration in Ocala, Florida.