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Terri L. Baumgardner, Ph.D. Headshot

In Dr. King's 'Symbolic Shadow,' a New Moment?

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Fifty years have passed since the day Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in the "symbolic shadow" of Abraham Lincoln and said the immortal words, "I Have a Dream."

Still, it is hard to think of a message or a man that has inspired so many in the lifetime, my lifetime, since.

His words rang so true and so full of humanity -- humanity, the connection that allowed people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and status to understand the message in their hearts, and pray for the dream to come true, too. This was not just a message for Black Americans. It was a message for all nations, all societies, all religions, all colors, "all of God's children."

When will we have a moment like that in history again?

When will we have a message of freedom, but one so balanced with love and understanding that it doesn't capitalize on our differences, but rather calls us to unite for one better world?

It is time.

It is time for the children of this generation to speak the truths of equality and peace and goodwill that they have grown to know in lives absent of bitterness or pain brought on by forefathers who they no longer know in their hearts. It is time for there to be one party, a party with no aisles to separate or cross over, a party of one people who share common hopes and dreams. It is time for wars to stop that ever deepen the chasm in the sand that separates one from another, and make it impossible to jump back over.

It is time for corporations to use their power for social good. It is time for there to be as many black men and women, white women, or Hispanics holding C-suite roles as there are white men. It is time for corporate leadership to start singing a new song, as the one sung for so long now, is staid.

It is time to stop children dying of diarrhea because there is no excuse, whether in our blessed nation, we can see them or not.

It is just time.

While we have come so far since Dr. King's immortal message, we have far to go. Perhaps, though in continuing this journey, we need to reconnect to the spirit of unity evoked by King. Perhaps, leaders of this time are obliged to stop emphasizing our divisions and start emphasizing the oneness that will allow us to rise above any challenge and to any opportunity.

When our nation's leaders come together this week to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. King's speech, will the message of unity call on us again from that podium, or will messages of division preside? Will both sides of the aisle be there to support the spirit of unity that Dr. King represented, or will the conspicuous absence of one side or the unsubtle finger-pointing of the other, emphasize yet again, a division?

I, for one, call on our leaders for another defining moment in history. As they stand in the "symbolic shadow" of Dr. King, can they recognize the moment?

It is time.