By John L. Horton

The most dangerous person in the world is a person who is sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid. You have a moral obligation to be intelligent. — Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.


If Dr. King were alive, he would have been 93 years old on January 15th. However, King’s birthday/holiday will be observed Monday, January 17. Also, the 54th anniversary of his assassination will be observed on April 4, 2022. Since his death in 1968, so much has changed … and yet, so much has remained the same.  Accordingly, we must continue to “live the dream.”

We must continue to acknowledge King’s memory and legacy by becoming (re)acquainted with his fight for social justice, political fairness and economic equity.

Sometimes I wonder, if he were alive, what would King think about how things have gone in the African-American community? What would he say? What would he do?

I am sure that King would encourage us to resolve the social and economic challenges that buffet us. He would remind us of individual responsibility, family stability, group cohesion and collective empowerment. And, he would remind us that many of the answers and solutions lie within us as a people.

Moreover, King would remind us: “The most dangerous person in the world is a person who is sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid. You have a moral obligation to be intelligent.” Truer words were never spoken. I think that King would agree with Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Paul Robeson, Mary McLeod Bethune, James Baldwin, and others, who believe that we are accountable and responsible for those things that happen to us, especially those things that we bring about ourselves.

King also would encourage us to show a willingness to know something, to be smart, to be curious and to be willing to learn and accomplish a lot more. While the world we inhabit may not be all fair or just, we must be willing to try … and try … and try. We must learn to give life our utmost effort and perform at our maximum capacity. We owe this much to ourselves, our ancestors, and our children.

If King were alive, he would motivate and encourage us to put our minds and backs into the obstacles and barriers before us.  He would remind us that we are the “masters of our fates” and the “captains of our souls.”  Further, King would preach and teach about PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Daily Efforts).  And, he would inspire us with the ten most powerful words on the planet: “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

As for me, personally and philosophically, I have decided to become a drum major for justice, fairness, equality, opportunity and responsibility. Instead of waiting for others, I have decided to make it happen for myself — and, I hope, others.

I resolve to be kind, generous, forgiving and thoughtful of others. Imagine the positivity and reciprocity of this possibility. I know that I can do all of this. I can “talk the talk and walk the walk” when it comes to practicing and implementing the teachings and philosophies of King.

Simply put, as I progress through this third decade of the 21st century and maneuver through the eighth decade of my life, I can do this for myself — and for others. In summary, this is my commitment and contribution to the legacy and memory of King.

Just as importantly, King would espouse an understanding that these challenging tasks and complicated issues cannot be easily overcome or quickly accomplished, but that they can be done. And, we should immediately and steadfastly work towards achieving those objectives. Moreover, he would remind us to always remember that we are standing on the backs and shoulders of those who have gone before us. Therefore, we must continue the “good fight,” for failure is not an option.

If King were alive, he would stress the need for building a foundation of empowerment for teaching individuals, families and communities how to tap the power within, rather than depending on handouts and the goodwill of others. Accordingly, he would emphasize the importance of family as the original and best departments of health, education, welfare, and salvation. Echoing the words of Paul Robeson, King would remind us that we should not expect anyone to do the things for us…that we must do for ourselves.

How I wish King were still alive! But, he’s not. However, his teachings, principles, sacrifices and contributions will always be with us. Therefore, let us draw from his legacy and achieve his “dream” for all of us. What a great way to show respect, gratitude and appreciation for the man.