What Would MLK Say on the 57th Anniversary of the March on Washington?

–Pondering words of wisdom by Martin Luther King, Jr. on Social Justice and Racial Equality

August 28, 2020, marked the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, a seminal event in the civil rights movement. The highlight of the gathering was the famous “I Have A Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

To mark the occasion, this is an opportune time to ponder some of Dr. King’s timeless words of wisdom about social justice and racial equality, which have had an immense influence on the nation more than half a century later. Dr. King’s words are critically important to recall as the Black Lives Matter movement continues nationwide.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

~Martin Luther King

MLK lifted the nation’s moral and spiritual compass to a higher level for the greater good.

It’s often said that the past is a prologue. With that in mind, what would MLK say about leadership, race, and equality in 2020?

Following are 10 more significant quotes by Dr. King (among many of relevance) which should loudly resonate during these challenging and turbulent times:

  1. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  2. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  3. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  4. “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  5. People should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
  6. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  7. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
  8. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
  9. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
  10. “We have come a long way, but we still have a long, long way to go.”

Final Thoughts

MLK will always be remembered as a phenomenal leader and great communicator during a pivotal time in American history. That’s because he helped change and shape American history in consequential ways.

Through his historic leadership and soaring rhetoric, MLK was able to stir the moral conscience of many whites in effectuating positive change for America on a host of divisive issues involving racial justice and equal opportunity.

The long-lasting results of MLK’s heroic work include more equality and less discrimination for African Americans and all Americans. But much more work remains to realize MLK’s noble dream by truly effectuating America’s promise of “Equal Justice Under Law” for Blacks, women, the LGBT community, and other groups still targeted for discrimination in too many aspects of modern society.

MLK’s bold efforts were memorialized by Congress in landmark legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These two groundbreaking laws helped move the USA closer to equality, but not close enough — as evidenced today by continuing police brutality and blatant discrimination against African Americans and other people of color.

Today’s new generation of young leaders, Millennials and Generation Z, can learn timeless lessons from Dr. King to help positively shape the social fabric of America in today’s increasingly diverse society. Remember MLK’s sage advice for the ages:

The time is always right to do what is right.

And that includes now.

This article appeared on The Good Men Project and is featured here with author permission.


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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