On April 4, 45 years ago, at 6:01 p.m., at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the age of 39.
Dr. King once said, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
These words endure to this day. Though we've witnessed tremendous progress since segregation, the bus boycotts, the three marches on Selma, and the other events that shaped the course of civil rights in America, the work is not complete. Though we've taken major strides, we still must work to create our more perfect union.
Sadly, there are communities and people across the nation who are still disenfranchised and relegated to an unequal status. I am talking about a young black boy or girl struggling to overcome the institutional racism embedded in certain U.S. policies; or the Hispanic child of immigrant parents caught up in our broken immigration system; or our brother or sister in the LGBTQI community who lacks even the most simple of rights we enjoy, like the ability to visit their loved one in a hospital; or any of our beloved women who, regardless of how much we claim to value them, don't earn as much as their male counterparts in the workplace.
Dr. King also said, "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
This call to action should serve as a reminder to all of us who are humanitarians, who are altruists and who are committed to enacting positive change in our communities. It is a clarion call to the young and old alike. The challenges we face may seem daunting, but each day that we work together to bring about change, the easier the journey becomes.
As an affirmation of our duties to the common good and as a rallying cry for those feeling frustrated with incremental change and seemingly endless setbacks -- particularly in Detroit where our people are distressed, demoralized and sick and tired of being sick and tired -- I leave you with one last quote by Dr. King:
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
It's also why today, 45 years after the assassination of one of our finest leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy lives on.
Follow Sen. Bert Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenBertJohnson