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For a change of pace, here is a statement pretty much all of us can agree with: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today," King said.
Many of us will have Monday off work for the national holiday, but the point of Martin Luther King Day is not a day for rest and relaxation.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: What you didn't know about King's 'Dream' speech
It is "a day on, not a day off" for volunteerism, bridge building and the pursuit of solutions that move the nation closer to King's vision of the "beloved community."
We urge you to work toward a community in which everyone is cared for, one without poverty, hunger and hate.
This call to action is nothing new, but it is worth repeating considering the divisive state we find ourselves in over a myriad of issues: voting rights, mask mandates, racial inequality and economic justice, the global pandemic and so forth.
Dreaming is not enough, and it was not enough in King's day.
Some of the issues that deprive and divide us today sent King and other civil rights protesters to Washington.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: How did Martin Luther King Jr. Day become a federal holiday? Here's the history
King was a certified doer until the evening five years after the Dream speech when he was cut down by an assassin's bullet while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Action is required to see this nation reach its potential.
That was reflected in less-quoted portions of King's iconic 16-minute speech described during the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom.
Democracy's lingering defects glare back at anyone who reads the speech today.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Columbus' annual MLK Day march returns, other events scheduled on federal holiday
If he had lived, King would have turned 93 yesterday, which is a year younger than actor and activist Sidney Poitier who took his last breath on Jan. 6.
The beloved Baptist minister died with work in the name of harmony and equality left undone.
He has been gone for more than 50 years, but there are plenty of hands to close the racial, spiritual and political divides that have Americans philosophically and physically segregated even as the nation itself becomes more diverse.
The U.S. population went from 90% white to 60% white between 1950 and 2018, but the vast majority of Americans live in racially segregated neighborhoods, according to the Brookings Institute.
The nation's white population shrunk for the first time in history, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. The number of people who identify as multiracial rose from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020.
The city of Columbus' population grew to 905,748, a 15% rise over the 2010 census. Black and Asian residents accounted for much of the growth. The city's Black population grew by 30,000 people, a 17.8% increase. The population of Asian residents grew by 24,253, an increase of more than 75%.
Owning a house is historically seen as a pathway to the American Dream, but the national Black homeownership rate sits at 46.4% compared to 75.8% for white families.
Americans see the problems.
Seventy-five percent of those who took part in a recent Public Agenda and USA TODAY poll said it would be good for the country if Americans "reject political hostility and divisiveness and focus more on their common ground."
Despite that poll finding, optimism in other areas is in short supply.
Only one in 10 surveyed think political bitterness between everyday Americans will die down in the next 10 years. Nearly half indicated they thought it would increase.
There have to be reasons to dream and believe. The future of our nation is on the line.
Luckily, King provided us with far more than pie-in-the-sky dreams. They are reachable goals — points on a map should we choose to connect them.
We know what must be done. Dreams don't just come true on their own.
We are going to have to wake up and get to work.
Editorials are The Dispatch Editorial Board's fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Volunteering, community action needed