UNITED STATES—Monday, January 16, 2017 is a very important day in American history. For some it is just another day off from work or school, but there is far more at stake. Why? We are celebrating the life of Civil Rights titan Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is a man, who no matter what you think changed the dynamics of race relations in the United States and across the world.

His ability to utilize non-violent tactics in response to the violence he and many others endured as they challenged segregation and inequality in the South during the 1950s and 1960s, should be something many attempt to display more in their lives. I particularly allude to this theory when it comes to violence in America. It seems EVERY single day I hear about someone being shot or killed it boils my blood; senseless crime because someone looked at you the wrong way, an argument over something so silly that if the culprit reflected on it they’d even agree.

Dr. King was all about equality, and not just for African-Americans. I mean we lived during a time where the U.S. Supreme Court thought Plessy v. Ferguson was ok, I mean separate but equal. Give me a break. Our government at times can be considered laughable when it comes to race relations. This is NOT SOMETHING WE CAN HIDE from. It’s a dialogue we must have; it’s a conversation that we MUST have.

This is part of our daily lives rather we want to believe it or not. One can make the argument all they want that everyone on this planet regardless of race has equal treatment, but deep down we all know that not to be true. I mean we’re in the 21st century and racism is still a problem, even though Dr. King advocated the importance of his “I Have a Dream Speech” pinpointing the importance of judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

Man that is a statement that resonates so well with me. We need to judge people based on who they ARE, not how they look. We live in a society where race matters, all we see is COLOR when we look at people and it’s a shame. It’s a shame that we cannot look beyond skin color when we see people, we create these preconceived notions of whom we THINK a person is before we actually have a conversation with them and discover things about their life that would surprise us if we just took a moment and actually listened.

I’ve always wondered how much more impact Dr. King would have had on this country if he was not assassinated on that fateful day in 1969. It’s a travesty to know this phenomenal man was murdered because someone feared that his message of equality and equal rights for all Americans would one day be achieved. Have we gotten closer to Dr. King’s dream of equality for all races? No, unfortunately we haven’t, but we have made strides, but there is still plenty more to be done.

This is a result of racism, it’s taught people. I don’t care what a person says, people are not born to be racist; they are taught to be racist by their parents, their grandparents and the media. To all those parents out there teaching their children to fear a particular race, to form prejudices and stereotypes about a particular ethnic group shame on you, shame on you. You are teaching hate, you are furthering an agenda that is unacceptable in this society. Why? No matter how much hate you might have for a particular group of individuals love always triumphs hate in America.

Dr. King was man, who I wish I could be a quarter of. His beliefs and his practices in life if only a slice of Americans can endure we would be a much greater place. Dr. King your dream of country acknowledging people based on the content of their character has not yet transpired, but I know, I know one day it will indeed be achieved.