50 years ago today, heaven received an angel too soon as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken from us.
It is impossible to articulate the impact that Dr. King had and continues to have on all of us. From his words that still inspire us to his marches that empowered even more, MLK is still the greatest motivator for social action and progress that this country has ever seen.
I have studied his life story with great appreciation and gratitude. I feel an even greater closeness to Dr. King because his birth name was Michael, but it was changed to Martin after his father's travels to learn of the great philosopher Martin Luther. Moreover, I have had the incomparable honor to deliver God's word from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, seen the writings of my beloved brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. after he crossed into the Sigma chapter of our fraternity, stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and spent time with the King family en route to the first Inauguration of President Barack Obama. Each of these experiences has made me value the impact of Dr. King even more. I am forever indebted to his life, legacy and leadership. Because of him, I wish to do more for my people and for all people.
As a young Black man in elected, community and ministerial service, whenever I reflect on the difficulties of my day, I try to remember his words of fighting for justice at all times when he said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends". Whether it's The Bronx or El Barrio, Parkland or Paris, we cannot be silent anymore and maybe King's gift of words shall still be a motivator for action. Today, I will join thousands to march in Memphis to honor his legacy but, I do it on behalf of my fellow Bronxites, my fellow children of Immigrants, my fellow young Black men and young men of Color, my fellow Christians and people of faith, my fellow public servants and my fellow Sisters and Brothers who are truly doers of the word!
Today, we come together to say aloud as Dr. King did in his final speech, that 'we have been to the mountaintop to see the promised land'. As he fought for the rights of the Memphis sanitation workers and all people to have economic justice, we know that he believed that your block won't block your blessing and your zip code won't deny your destiny. Dr. King showed us that regardless of an individual's age, circumstances, trials and tribulations, each and every human being on this planet has the ability to change the world for the better.
We will continue to march, legislate, fight and dream. You may take away the dreamer but the dream is alive and well. Dream well MLK. You have inspired a new generation of dreamers. Long live the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
New York State Assembly Member