As my co-workers and I watched Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it struck me how contemporary his words were. This speech could have been given yesterday with its references to police brutality, second-class citizenship, and bankrupt promises.

And then I quickly tried to calculate how long ago that speech was given, and what King might have expected would have come to pass in that time frame. It has been 53 years since he stood on the steps of the monument memorializing The Great Emancipator. Eight years since the election of the country’s first Black president. Many things have changed, but too many things have not.

It is easy to become bitter or cynical or tired. As King stated, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” We must rise above the actions that challenge our belonging and the rhetoric that debases our humanity.

The future is uncertain and sometimes even downright scary. Retreating to the familiar or sliding into complacency or even succumbing to paralyzed inactivity are not choices that we have the luxury to pursue.

We are called to action. King himself stated in his speech, “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

If you are frustrated or angry, stop posting comments on social media, and formulate a plan of action. Get busy. Find out how to get involved locally or nationally to make a difference, to have an impact. NOW is the time to do something, whether that is something in your local school or community, or something larger on the state or national stage.

Find your voice. Do something! Don’t just quote the dream, wake up and be about making the dream a reality. The alarm is ringing! Now is the time for action. WAKE UP!

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