Dreams Become Reality: Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps one of the most admired human rights activists the modern world has ever known. He believed so deeply in nonviolent protests against violent oppression that he couldn't help but lead a movement that gave a much-needed African-American voice to the tension people experienced during the segregation of the South. He also provided them an opportunity to act, by orchestrating public sit-ins and marches. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated the power of love and forgiveness in the midst of injustice. In the end, he was assassinated for his convictions but not without successfully changing the culture of America for the better. We, along with hundreds of other nations, honor his example of leadership and sacrifice today.
In the face of modern-day slavery, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation, it is easy to feel crippled. In the face of tragic atrocities and crimes against humanity, Martin Luther King taught us to “keep this movement going, keep this movement rolling, in spite of the difficulties, keep climbing, keep moving.” We are inspired by the work of Martin Luther King Jr. to continue a nonviolent movement to free others from violent oppression.
Many of us fight for justice in our own way, whether that is wearing a dress every day in the last month of the year, protesting peacefully on the streets of our city, signing petitions or rallying our representatives. For some, wearing a dress or a bow-tie for a month can act as a peaceful protest against our own small-mindedness. It forces us to look outside of our daily comforts and become aware that suffering of the worst kind is existing right under our noses. Participants with larger platforms can creatively go beyond self-awareness, from auctioning off their signed dresses to hosting educational forums and leading teams of other advocates—the possibilities are endless.
As we think on the incredible work of Martin Luther King Jr. today and as we celebrate his life and legacy, let us not underestimate the potential possessed by each one of us for changing the current state of freedom. I believe that we are cooperating with the birth of a new culture. We are no longer permitting without protest, the severe captivity of our sisters and brothers here in the U.S. and abroad. From labor trafficking to sexual exploitation, we refuse to ignore their plight any longer. Raising awareness and over $5 million dollars in 5 years is just the beginning of the revolution that's coming. Can you feel it?
Gender inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace is now roared against thanks to the #timesup movement and the bravery of many women and men who have come forward to tell their stories. Survivors are finding their own voice in the courageous testimonies of others and together they are creating a charismatic choir of peaceful protest that would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud. The advocates of the world have decided to collectively shine a bright light on the injustice of oppression and people are starting to take notice. No one could say it better than Oprah, "A new day is on the horizon."
Martin Luther King Jr. inspires us to dream again. With the dress as our flag, we are dreaming of freedom for all from violent oppression and exploitation. We dream of stricter law enforcement against virtual slave auctions like backpage.com and literal slave auctions like those witnessed in Lybia this year. We dream of high integrity and decency for those holding powerful offices globally. We dream that someday cybersex trafficking and property grabbing will be crimes of the past. We dream of more readily available aftercare for survivors and more healthy families eager to adopt. Are we dreaming in vain?
Today, if nothing else, should be a day of real hope for the dreamers. A day that represents the possibility of widespread progress. We're not just crossing our fingers and wishing our advocacy will make a difference. It is already making a difference.
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitability. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals...This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action." -Martin Luther King Jr.
Consider the actions you can take today to usher in a new era, one centered on freedom, equality, and compassion.
About the Author
Allyss Flores is finally a grown up, having turned 30 this year. She is grateful that now, thanks to Dressember, she can fight for justice every December regardless of her life circumstance. Aside from advocating and telling stories, Allyss loves to raise her two small children with her husband deep in the heart of Texas.