“The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right” – Is Dr. King’s Sense of Justice in Today’s World?


Liana Riley, Contributing Writer

An African American Baptist minister from Georgia, whose life and legacy was to uplift and empower those who shared in his disposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was raised in the South, and he would grow to face many challenges, all of which molded him into the most prominent civil rights activist of his time. His legacy is as pertinent today as it was from his time of his birth on January 15, 1929, to the day of his death on April 4th, 1968. Yet given the current state of politics and our culture, is it possible that Dr. King’s words are not as pronounced as they once were? In the face of widespread injustice, are his words being dismissed? Despite the pertinence of his legacy, where is the impact truly being felt?
The answer lies all around us as we now find ourselves in a post-King America, and with the America that we are in today, his own state of Georgia is currently undergoing yet another racial struggle as they face the modern day Jim Crow for African American voting rights. The state’s policymakers have just put into action a law that prohibits people from giving water to voters on line, along with stricter ID requirements, banning mobile voting centers, and less time to request absentee ballots. This 98-page voting law has effectively regressed the South back to its not-so-golden roots of minority oppression at the ballot box and the silencing of the people’s will in what should be free and fair elections. Yet in spite of this resistance, Georgia still made history electing two democratic senators one of them a Jewish American Sen. Jon Ossoff and its state’s first black senator Sen. Raphael Warnock. Perhaps Dr. King’s dream is creeping its way into reality.
But remember: the legacy of Dr. King was one of peace through action. He led a bus boycott that lasted 381 days from Montgomery, Alabama, all the way to the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., and his civil disobedience pushed the Supreme Court to rule segregation on public buses unconstitutional. Therefore, it’s safe to say that if he were alive today to see that his fellow statesmen have descended back into this perverted sense of living, he would do now what he did back then, which is to lead through peaceful action. Although the leader of the boycott is perhaps most known for his Dream, that Dream that Dr. King told the world was how one day his children and the children of all Americans will, “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” There is but one caveat to this dream, which is that Dr. King isn’t here anymore to see that dream through to fruition, so the task and question remains: who leads now? Who shines the light on injustice? Who carries out the legacy of the man, the legacy of the dream?

George Floyd, whose life was cut short on May 25, 2002

These are fair questions that MLK did not leave completely unanswered. Even in his death, his work in life lingered over the next several generations, leading straight into the present day with mass protests and demonstrations advocating on behalf of minority lives. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world all proclaimed that we matter, that our lives matter, that all of our voices lift together to form one, one stance against injustice forged from pain and oppression. In his lifetime, MLK said that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”This past year, the world also saw a grave and fatal injustice when Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the neck of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And now in the present day, the world stands witness to the trial of Officer Chauvin who stands accused of murder in the second and third degree in addition to manslaughter charges. As we near the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s killing, the world now has to watch, yet again, a trial that will either end in justice or further injustice. However, even if the verdict bends towards justice, that doesn’t mean that there is no more work to be done and that Dr. King’s dream is now a reality; far from it actually. Although there have been numerous and great strides of progress in the name of racial and civic justice, we need true systemic change just like the change that King inspired with the Supreme Court. But in order to accomplish this change, we must remember one simple truth that Dr. King left with us which is that, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

The arresting officer Derek Chauvin listens to his verdict of guilty on all three charges related to the death of Floyd.

There lies a great and long road ahead of us, but it is not without end. MLK would not have us give up hope yet, but rather to remain diligent in our efforts and unwavering in our desire for true equality and justice for all. Evermore, never lose sight of the fight for equality, never relinquish the desire for justice, never refute the call to action, and always strive to uphold the memory of Dr. King so that one day we won’t have to close our eyes to see his dream but rather open them and simply look around us.