UNITED STATES—Monday, January 18 was the celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for most Americans. I mean for this to be a national holiday it seems more like a ‘day off’ for most people. I mean kids are out of school, most government offices are closed, no banks are open, it’s another checkmark on the calendar of days that most don’t work or have to go to school.

In all honesty, it’s a sad day when we think of things in this manner. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might be one of the most influential figures in the Civil Rights Movement, heck he is one of the most important leaders in American history. It is because of this man, so many of us have liberties and freedom that our parents, our grandparents and our great-great grandparents never had the luxury of enjoying. This might be particularly impactful for African-Americans and minorities across the country.

This is not in any way to diminish the assistance that Dr. King received from other races that assisted in his fight for equality and not to mention the passing of the Equal Voting Rights Act of 1965. I mean I can’t imagine not getting the opportunity to cast my vote when it comes to local, state and federal issues that will indeed impact my life, my kid’s lives and my kid’s kids’ lives.

Perhaps the one thing I respect most about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is his ability to utilize non-violence as his approach to fight wrongs committed against African-Americans, minorities and people unjustly treated in our country. The brutality of watching videos, reading books and hearing tales about things that people endured in the South and so many other regions in America to seek the same treatment as everyone else is harrowing. Even though those teachings from Dr. King have been echoed for nearly five plus decades since his death, we live in a world nowadays where turning the cheek is not so easy.

I can’t help but take a moment and pause, to reflect on honoring this man who has given me the opportunity to matter in this country, to have my voice heard, to utilize my gift to write to spread the word about social issues and injustices that are taking place in this country that must be remedied. I mean we have an epidemic of African-American men (young and some middle-aged) being fatally shot by police officers. Most of them unarmed. If it happened once I might be able to say I get it (even though it’s not justified), but that is not the case here.

It is happening all the time, I mean daily, weekly, monthly so much to the point that the idea of being an African-American male is a damn scary thing. To make matters worse we still live in a society where people think it’s okay to judge someone on the color of their skin and not the content of their character. I mean how often do we really take a look in the mirror and self-reflect on ourselves. Asking that age old question, “Who am I?”

Perhaps, that is something we all should do on this historic holiday. Ask that question of rather I’m doing everything possible in my power to continue the teachings of Dr. King. Am I moving more towards becoming a colorblind nation? Do I always perceive race over character. I hate to admit it, but I get caught up in the ‘race game’ as I like to call it. It’s almost like the teachings of Dr. King are clouded with the constant depictions of the bad, the ugly and the evil that is seen in the media and everyday life.

Our country has made strides in making changes, but nearly 50 years after the passing of Dr. King, I stop and reflect; we still have SO MUCH MORE TO DO! This is in no way a bash on where we have come because things post Dr. King were way worse, they have gotten somewhat better, but I know if Dr. King was still living on this Earth today, he’d be the first to say we have work to do, and that work we have to do CANNOT be done by one man alone. I know most of us would like to think one man can change the world, but it’s not the case.

Dr. King was a catalyst; he was the guy who saw the changes that needed to be made, it wasn’t until he had an army of people who also noticed those changes that the movement began! America are you ready to continue to push our country in the right direction, I know I am are you?