Dr. King's Birthday

Often, when reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for the realization of America’s promise, we get stuck on the social justice issues, and don’t see the larger focus. While a change in the social climate was much needed, often we forget that Dr. King’s dream was one of more than just social equality — it was also one of financial equity and fiscal responsibility.

King described his dream as being "deeply rooted in the American Dream." In general, the "American Dream" is defined as having the opportunity and freedom that allows all citizens to achieve their goals in life through hard work and determination alone. It generally refers to the idea that one's prosperity depends upon one's own abilities and hard work, not on a class structure. For some this translates into the opportunity to achieve more prosperity than they could in their countries of origin; for others, it is the opportunity for their children to grow up with a good education and great career opportunities.

On this day, which commemorates his birth, let us recall that the analogy which Dr. King used was a financial one. The allegory which Dr. King referenced was one which spoke of Americans living "on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair," said Dr. King, quite appropriately. He went on to state, "We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Dr. King's words will forever ring hollow in our heads if they’re not reflected in our actions, and echoed by our hearts.

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