Growing up, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was always just another day, an odd Monday in January that I did not have to go to school. I by no means complained about that, but I never really understood the reason why I had the day off from school.

Even after I learned the significance of the day, it still held little importance to me. I knew even then, that as white male, the issue of racial inequality would never have any real bearing on my life. It was a holiday that was observed, but not celebrated by me.

It was not until recently that the holiday personally had a greater significance than a three-day weekend. I thought as many do that MLK never did much for people like me. Therefore, why did I care about his memory? The generational gap between King and the ideas that he preached against such as hatred, bigotry, and ignorance only furthered this disconnect from the true meaning of his message.

King’s dream was not only equality for his own people, but for all of humanity. On April 4, 1968, he paid the ultimate price so that one day we may no longer focus on our differences. He dreamed that we will learn to embrace one another for our similarities.

In several ways, we owe the level of tolerance we have today to MLK. We as a society have grown so much since the days of Little Rock, Birmingham, and Watts. Has King’s great dream finally been realized? Although we are closer to equality now than ever before, we must not abandon the fight. We are so close, but true equality has yet to be obtained. Racial inequality is at an all time low, but has not been completely eradicated. We must continue to strive to end injustice and bigotry wherever and whenever it may arise.

Still in our society, there are factions that are omitted from this dream. Men and women are stilled ostracized for exercising their right to love who they want and denied marriage equality, simply because it conflicts with other’s antiquated ideas of morality. This is an abomination to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Until the time comes when all people, no matter their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation are allowed the same rights Dr. King’s dream will not be fully realized.

We must all stand together to demand equality for all. We all have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is what King fought for, so that no matter who or what you are, all people will be guaranteed the same rights as everyone else.

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