A few years ago, I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, which is the site of the Lorraine Motel. I stood on its balcony, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last stood before a hateful gunman took away his last breath fifty-four years ago today.
The motel balcony leads back into Dr. King’s room, preserved just as it was on that day. The bed is unmade. Coffee cups are on the table. There is a restless spirit in that room – of a dream deferred, of unfinished business. The night before, Dr. King preached from the pulpit of Mason Temple and delivered what would be his final sermon, “Let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be.”
Fifty-four years later, his charge remains as vital as it was that night. A charge to make real the promise of America for all Americans – a promise that holds we are all created equally and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. As a nation, we have never fully lived up to that promise, but we have never fully walked away from it either.
And in this past year, we have made great strides forward by putting racial equity at the center of our work: to beat COVID-19, rebuild our economy, tackle the climate crisis, and root out systemic racism from our nation’s laws, policies, and institutions. But whether it’s delivering racial justice, safeguarding the sacred right to vote, or giving hate no safe harbor, we know that challenges remain.
As we look ahead, on this day of remembrance, let us pray for Dr. King and his family. Let us redouble our efforts to deliver the promise of America that he gave his life for.
Let us move on in these powerful days to come.