Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

In his final speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged us to grapple with the problems America faces with a greater readiness.

He posed a question in that speech the night before he died. He said, “The question is not if I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me? The question is if I do not stop to help this man in need, what will happen to him?”

Dr. King’s words ring true today, and we must heed his call by addressing today’s challenges because we are better when we serve others together.

And, we know that real change happens because of activism in our communities, church basements, and union halls.

During the 2004 presidential race, my 84-year-old mother organized a voter-registration drive in my hometown of Mansfield. She would put her card table in the trunk of her car, drive to the poorest section of town, and help to register residents. She registered more than 1,000 voters that year.

Let that serve as a lesson that we are never too old, too young, too rich, or too poor to serve.

We can best remember Dr. King not by repeating his powerful words, but using them to compel us to action to help others.

Read a book to a child.

Volunteer at your local food bank.

Clean up the trash around your neighborhood.

Check out the MLK Day of Service website for other ways to honor Dr. King in your community.

His legacy is not frozen in time, but lives on within each of us when we stand united against injustice.

Let some of Dr. King’s final words remind us of his call to “stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”

And that opportunity lies within us.

Sherrod Brown