On August 28th,1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic "I have a dream" speech. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to a crowd of more than 250,000 people, the late civil rights activist laid out his dream for racial equality in America and his vision for our country for the years to come.
On that day, Reverend King boldly articulated his vision for a country in which he says "...my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, ...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." That "...one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
This historic speech ushered in a series of remarkable and groundbreaking advancements towards racial equality in America and has inspired millions of people around the world to look to one's heart and not one's complexion.
However, in the 21st century, we are faced with new demons, new struggles, and a new shockingly, horrible reality.
In 2015, women still make 78 cents to the dollar compared to men for doing the same exact work. A statistic that should not only infuriate you but motivate you to fight harder and fight for the pay you deserve.
But the question remains - why should you have to fight for what you deserve?
This fight for equal pay is a shocking reality for millions of women in millions of workplaces across America.
While some on the right may attempt to ignore this proven fact, the facts are clear. Study, after study, after study has confirmed this jaw-dropping injustice affecting millions of workplaces across America.
We must do better.
Currently, those working 40 hours a week are struggling to put food on the table and clothes on their children's back while the top one percent of wage earners in America are thriving. This is not only egregious but an utter betrayal of the values we hold as a country.
President Obama put it best: "Hard work, personal responsibility - those are values. But looking out for one another. That's a value. The idea that we're all in this together. I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. That's a value."
Those are the values we can not forget.
When it comes to those working as hard as they can, as much as they can, and still struggling to make ends meet - we must do better.
The fact of the matter is that the current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. Regardless of Republican fear tactics, we won't lose jobs if we raise the wage. Paul Krugman, of Princeton University, even said, "And while there are dissenters, as there always are, the great preponderance of the evidence from these natural experiments points to little if any negative effect of minimum wage increases on employment."
And so, when it comes to giving the 1.5 million people currently making minimum wage in America the pay they deserve, we must do better.
Gun violence in America has become the norm. Every week, someone somewhere is getting their head blown off due to a lack of common sense policies when it comes to gun control. We've learned to accept these senseless tragedies as the new norm.
We've become numb.
We've become numb to the devastating effects that gun violence has on the families of it's victims due to the horrible consistency as which it occurs.
I'm thirteen years old and sometimes I fear going to school because I have no clue as to what could happen or what some crazy person could do if they got their hands on a gun and walked into my school.
I shouldn't have to be scared.
For the 62,000 victims of gun violence in this year alone, we must do better.
I support the Second amendment because I support the Constitution. However, common sense gun policies isn't "gun grabbing" - it's public safety.
Last but not least, this piece wouldn't be complete without discussing the harrowing effects of systemic racism and police brutality in this country. 2015 has been the year of Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, and countless others who've lost their lives for simply doing nothing.
While this is purely speculative, I'm sure if MLK were to see the police brutality people of color across America are facing today, he'd ask the same question many others, including myself, are currently asking.
"Why are the police killing my people?"
We must do better.
While taking in the struggles we face, it is easy to become saddened, easy to become discouraged, and easy to become angry. However, our anger must become our driving force. Our sadness must become our muse.
Because like Martin Luther King Jr., for the sake of progress, we can not afford to lose this fight. We can only afford to do better.
And we must do better...before it's too late.