Recent events are stark reminders that we have not reached the mountaintop where "all God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands." Today is a cause not for celebration but for mourning. More than 50 years later, it seems that we have chipped away at Dr. King's efforts to get a foothold on the dream.
I have concluded that America's Evangelical church covers up America's structural racism, helps to hide it, and is thereby complicit in the abuse.
Where we have a constraining pair of pants or shorts, we can still look back on its forerunner, the bloomer, which was as revolutionary a feminist statement as was ever any parade of militant protestors.
To quote Pharrell Williams' hit song "Happy," "it might seem crazy, what I'm about to say." In regard to race relations, there wasn't much to be happy about in 2014. Still, I'm happy and optimistic about race relations in 2015.
All were willing to step up to make a difference, to lead when it could be dangerous, and to let their lives be shining examples for others. We should remember them when we face stormy and cloudy weather in our national life and become bright rainbows of hope like them.
The challenge must be to extend your liberalism to uncomfortable depths that not only speak to today's crises, but stand the test of time for equality in future generations.
Our country needs all of us to chip in. Every day in your life you can push for change. I don't have enough room to list all the examples here, but educate yourself on what subtle, modern day racism looks like because its damage is real.
We waited. Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Nothing.
As medical students, health care professionals, and supporters all across the country come together for #WhiteCoats4BlackLives demonstrations, we do so with the understanding that the status quo is not acceptable, that the path we are headed down is not sustainable, and our lack of discussion on race in this country is not healthy.
A legal, constitutionally protected way to defeat racism is right in front of us. After all, everyone can relate to not wanting to be viewed as a criminal, regardless of how they feel about climate change or taxes.
The urge to respond to bigots with bigotry is natural, but it's misguided. It's a fool's defense mechanism, a failed attempt at a syllogism.
The most talked about book of American poetry of 2014 is Claudia Rankine's Citizen. In fact, it is hard to think of a book of poems in recent memory that has received more acclaim.
It's human nature to want to believe in the rightness of our own actions and intentions. But it's precisely human nature that is the problem; the fact that human evil is predictable does not make it excusable. We must be willing to consider ourselves culpable, and to put ourselves at risk.
Nothing will bring back the four lives that were tragically and unjustly cut short. But it's what we do now that will define our legacy as a nation.
You can talk all you want about being "color blind," while still unconsciously assuming that middle class white lives are the standard against which all other lives are to be measured.
Racial stereotypes -- faulty perceptions based on race -- have blunted black Americans' achievement in just about any area you care to measure: from education and employment to housing and economic success.