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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his vision long ago for a just society. Since his time African Americans and their nation have come a long way – but is it far enough?

Much of the world is familiar with portions of the famous speech that Dr. King delivered on the steps of the Washington Monument. As faces of all colors stared at him in person and on televisions across the land, he painted a beautiful picture for us all of the kind of nation we could become if we would abandon our racist ways. He exposed us to the world. The nation founded upon democratic principles where all men were allegedly “created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” was revealed to the world as a fraud through the Civil Rights Movement. America had to change. And change she did!

Fast forward to 2010. So much has Dr. King been recognized as a national treasure, that his birthday is a nationally anticipated holiday. The United States of America has elected an African American to the highest office in the nation. Black entertainers and athletes are among the most popular celebrities around the world. African Americans have held the highest positions both in the public and private sectors – positions they would have been ineligible for six decades ago. God has indeed brought us a mighty long way.

And yet…

For all our progress and achievements, we lead in areas nobody heralds. Whatever the national average is for unwed or teen pregnancies, divorce, unemployment, dropping out of high school, incarceration, chronic diseases (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, or death by homicide, for us in some instances, that “average” is nearly double. Much of what we face as African Americans can legitimately be laid at the feet of a racially oppressive system, which itself is fallout from slavery.

Much of what oppresses us as individuals can also be traced to our personal choices – choices that we pass on to the generations that come after us. How are you living your life? How do you spend your time? Your money? Are you investing in the lives of others, or stockpiling everything within your reach? Do you possess morals? Do you live by a code of ethics? From where did you get the framework for your life? When disaster strikes – and it most certainly will – will your framework stand or crumble? What strides are you taking to improve your legacy? Like it or not, we all leave one. The type of legacy we leave, however, depends upon the choices we make daily.

Dr. King longed for a future where his children (and by default all people) would be judged by the content of their character rather than their skin color. This assumes first that they have character. His focus was on the internal, which leads to the eternal, rather than the external, which is always temporal.

Are we living Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream? The answer depends on where your focus lies. In honor of the man, and all he contributed to the world for the short time he was here, take time today, to ask yourself the hard questions about the existence you have chosen to lead.

If you discover that it is less than noble, please consider turning to the one true King, who knows and desires what is best for you. A better life is waiting for you, all you have to do is ask.

Have a wonderful MLK celebration today, Family!

Written by Sheeri Mitchell for

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