Juwan Lee 

Since 1983, communities nationwide have gathered on the third Monday of January to commemorate the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Those who are old enough vividly recall April 4, 1968, that dark day when King was cut down by an assassin's bullet while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

In his 13 years of political and civic leadership, King emerged as a beacon for change and a voice for the nation's dispossessed, battling a legacy of inequality and discrimination.

During these uncertain times, Dr. King remains an example of moral clarity that continues to inspire.

King, however, was far from the only contributor to black liberation throughout history. This is not to minimize the importance of one black leader, but to celebrate the King holiday in the name of not just one man but of the collective, historical fight for freedom.

I am a 23-year old African American man. My connection to Dr. King is less a personal bond with one man, and more a feeling of solidarity with the ongoing and collective struggle King, and others, endured during, prior, and after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. King’s words had an impact — an immeasurable impact that continue, woven inextricably, into the fabric of American culture.

MLK Day should remind us of those who have committed – and continue to recommit – themselves to the advancement of equality and justice in this country.

In his final days, Dr. King not only articulated his vision for economic empowerment, racial equality and peace, but laid out a strategy of unity to achieve them.

Unity we must have in the ongoing fight against injustice, including the victims of alleged police brutality: Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, and many others.

Holidays typically serve as reminders of the past, but as we welcome another MLK Day on Monday, let it serve as a barometer of our nation's potential for progress.

Let's take the opportunity to delve deeper into history—not just to remember the triumphs of a select few, or the country’s progress in civil rights over the last 60 years, but to recognize a historical narrative that is uniquely black and undoubtedly American.

It's a day black people can feel as if they have, not only a seat at the table of American history, but also their own unique voice in articulating their collective future.

Juwan Lee is the sports editor of the Palestine Herald-Press 

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