MLK Day Reflections

Hailee Bland-Walsh, City Gym Owner

We know Dr. King today through the legacy of his incredible social justice work. What we often forget is that Dr. King began as a young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, in Montgomery Alabama. He was only 25 years old. In fact, he was only 26 years old during the Montgomery bus boycott. 

We reflect on Dr. King's impact with reverence as it seems divinely inspired. Yet, as I sit here this morning and wonder what Dr. King might tell us today if he were alive, I can't help but think that in his grace and humility would remind us, that he was not unique. That like all of us, he was given gifts to use to make this world better. The only difference is that in the face of incredible backlash and what I imagine was extraordinary fear, he acted. 

Last month in India, President Obama spoke to a room full of young people in New Delhi about Dr. King. There he shared, "It took a young man with a big dream -- to desegregate the South. And he started in small steps..."

It was only a few years later when he won the Nobel Prize and would help to revolutionize America. But it wasn't just Dr. King -- it was all these young people around him who were just like us. They had their flaws. They had their problems. They had their doubts. But despite all those imperfections, they pressed forward anyway -- often far from the limelight -- with determination and with faith in the future, because they believed that their efforts would matter and that they would be part of this upward trajectory in our human story.

So that's the legacy that is available to you should you choose to grab it. That should inspire each of you to keep pushing for progress in whatever field you're in and whatever communities that you live in, knowing that your efforts matter.

So today as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions let us take up the charge put forward by his life. Today, may we decide that despite our lack of experience or our fear at retaliation, we do something that reignites the flame set by the life that Dr. King led. Let us remember that it was a young pastor, a man like you and I, that set forth with a vision, and through his leadership, changed the world. Today, and every day, be the change. In small ways and in big ways, set forth with a vision. It is the only thing that can change the world. 

Dr. King said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" As President Obama reminded those young people in India, that is the legacy available to you. It should inspire you to keep pushing. 

So my friends, what then will you do? Today? Tomorrow? How will we reflect on the legacy of your life?