Our vision of equality for all has made great strides in the 50 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and proclaimed to the crowd of 250,000 gathered there that he had a dream that "one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'"
But while the blatant signs of inequality may have been erased - most notably segregation - too often a person's race, sex, sexual orientation or even religion can make him or her a target of hatemongers or unfair treatment.
Many of those commemorating the 50th anniversary of King's speech in D.C. are pledging that the fight for equality includes gays, Latinos, the poor and the disabled.
In an Associated Press story following Saturday's march, one of many events leading up to the actual anniversary of King's speech today, Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader said, "This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration. Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."
President Barack Obama is expected to speak at ceremonies today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are also scheduled to attend. According to The Associated Press, churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m., marking the exact time King spoke.
The sound of those bells provides a time for introspection as we look into ourselves and provide an honest assessment of our actions and how we live our lives as they relate to helping move our nation toward a time when we can say that we believe, as one, that everyone is created equal. It can also be a time to rededicate ourselves to the goal of treating others as we would want to be treated, and ensuring that America is, indeed, a land of opportunity for all.
We've come a long way in the past 50 years, but our journey is far from over. Let's commit ourselves to the goal of not having another 50 years pass before King's dream is fully realized.