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King’s legacy should push us all

Had it not been for an assassin’s hate-laced bullet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might have celebrated his 81st birthday last week.

Instead, the world celebrated the slain civil rights leader’s legacy Monday with a holiday in his honor and dozens of memorials around the United States.

For those who lived during the Civil Rights Era, imagining that more than four decades have passed since King’s murder can be difficult at times.

For those who remember those horrible, divisive and often-violent days, the memories of the events seem as vivid today as if they’d occurred only last week.

This time of year, many of us relive some of King’s own history and consider the “what ifs” surrounding him, in particular, “If Dr. King were alive today, what would he think of America? Would he be pleased or would he be disappointed?”

Given King’s public demeanor, we suspect he’d be right down the middle. He’d be beaming with pride at some of the great successes black Americans have in the past few decades, from Hollywood celebrities to the nation’s first non-white U.S. president.

Dr. King would probably celebrate those victories, but urge us all to continue the push for his American dream.

He would probably be critical of Americans of all colors who have allowed the nation’s morals to slip into decline. He would encourage and inspire us all to believe again that America can be so much more than where it is today.

His inspiring legacy should live on in all of us every day of the year.