“Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Saddled with a costly and senseless war, on the precipice of a recession, suffering from bitter division, America would do well to remember the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Though we pause annually to recognize his greatness, we often forget that he was vehemently opposed to war, that his government actively tried to marginalize him and that he was shot while campaigning against poverty.

Though we indeed should take measure of King’s accomplishments, and there are many, we would do well to recognize that his work is not done.

A black man could be president. A woman could be president. And they will inherit a nation divided and at war, a government that still spies on its citizens, a superpower that cannot feed and clothe and care for all of its people.

So while we pause to reflect on his greatness, let his words continue to move us to change. As King himself once said:

“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.”


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