It Starts With Me: Reflections on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lyneè Urban
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marching with the American flag

This morning I have been reflecting on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., someone I believe was one of the most patriotic Americans in modern history.

When I read his writing and hear his speeches, I am deeply moved by how he led people to continue working towards creating a country together that fulfills its promise of equal opportunity, life, and liberty for one and all. 

I realized in my reflections today that Dr. King inspired how I look at and relate to the American flag. 

When I look at the flag, it reminds me that the American dream is a work in progress and each of us are called to help make it a reality. 

And this ethos is reflected in the King Center’s ongoing work. Today, the King Center hosted a commemorative service in honor of Dr. King with the title “It Starts With Me.”  

King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King gave a passionate speech, where she said: 

“We must move beyond the quotable King to the livable King.”

She invited each person watching to consider how they might personally be a part of continuing King’s legacy “to find a common pathway forward that unites us all.”

This is what I think about and re-commit to each and every time I fly my flag. 

It starts with me. 

Those 50 stars on the flag represent each of us and, to me, are shining beacons of the hope that comes from our unity. Together, we can create “personal, cultural, and societal transformation,” as King’s daughter said to the crowd today. 

In that spirit of hope, I share these words with you today. It starts with me — and you. 

“It’s up to us.” - Dr. Bernice A. King 

Dr. Martin luther king jr

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a National Day of Service

Here are some ways you can help your community in the spirit of hope and making the American dream a reality:

  • Make care kits for those who are unhoused and unsheltered in your community
  • Donate to your local food bank, focusing on most-needed items
  • Sign up to be a companion volunteer at a local hospice or retirement home
  • Volunteer to work towards habitat restoration in your area
  • Write to your congressional leaders about the issues that matter most to you
  • Find your own local volunteer opportunity through AmeriCorps here

"Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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