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Martin Luther King asked, ‘How long will it take?’ Not long | Opinion

Jonathan A. Greenblatt
·2 min read

Martin Luther King asked: “How long will it take?”

This question continues to rise up.

We must never get used to witnessing hate, discrimination and racism online and in the streets.

We cannot permit it to be a permanent part of American life.

As we saw the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of slavery and white supremacy, waved alongside other banners of bigotry in the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the message could not have been clearer.

Hatred continues to seek footholds in our country’s halls of power.

That’s why commemorating King’s birthday is so important. His words cut through the noise and lift our eyes. This day in his honor is a wake-up call that the struggle for social and racial justice continues and demands our involvement.

It also reminds us that when the goal is justice, great things can be accomplished.

During the riots at the Capitol, it was easy to miss moments of progress, but we must recognize those as well.

Just a day before the violence, Georgia held peaceful elections that will send the first Black and first Jewish senators from that state to Washington, where they can help heal those battered halls.

As we honor the memory of Dr. King, we recognize that his work is not yet finished.

It is up to all of us to continue marching toward a more just and inclusive society.

Our legal and criminal justice systems must speak with one strong voice in condemning and prosecuting crimes motivated by bias, which is why we call for the passage of the No Hate Act to improve our understanding of how white nationalists and other extremist beliefs manifest in assaults and other crimes and to develop new hate-crime reduction programs built around deeper community engagement.

As you observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we encourage you to visit our resource page about the holiday.

It includes resources about how to take action from our partners at the NAACP, the National Urban League and Color of Change.

Our page also has insights into how, by learning and reflecting, we can examine our own biases and understand the diversity of experiences and perspectives that have built the multiculturalism that strengthens our country.

As you observe the holiday and honor King, remember that he asked “How long will it take?”

His answer to his own question was profound for its faith and optimism, especially in light of the obstacles he faced that we continue to face today.

He said, “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt is CEO and National Director of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).