What readers have to say about Martin Luther King Jr. in words and videos. Also, scroll down for graphics tracking progress since the civil rights movement.
We asked what you thought Martin Luther King Jr., would say today, and you told us on Twitter and Facebook, and by video through our new Your Take platform.
From criticisms of the Tea Party to calls for discussions of the Trayvon Martin case to marriage equality, here are your inspirational, political and social thoughts in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In addition, we included graphics to show the progress that has been made (and how far some say we have to go) since the end of the civil rights movement.
Words of inspiration
I would imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say something like this: I am disheartened and disappointed at how our nation has not progressed but rather regressed in the effort to walk and live among each other. We discern, judge and stereotype individuals before we even shake their hands. This type of behavior is not only pointed toward blacks by whites, but it's a universal foible that has poisoned our society. When I said my brothers and sisters, I never meant only my black brothers and sisters. I also meant my white and Asian brothers and sisters, and my brothers and sisters of every other race.
In order to live in harmony with each other, we cannot just tolerate each other. No, we must fix this attitude as it leads to an inevitable boiling point that will be hotter than a raging volcano. We are not that different from each other. We all eat the same foods, wear the same brands, listen to the same music, watch the same shows, idolize the same athletes and celebrities, and most important, we believe in the same God. We have white collars judging blue collars, but the white-collar workers have monetarily exploited this country for more than most will ever even realize. I am not going to explain how transparent the George Zimmerman case was. We all know the truth will come out sooner or later as the final judgment cannot be handed down by man. I am also displeased with our brothers and sisters who feed trash to our children. I have faith in man, and I have faith in God. Those two things have allowed me to live my life without the burden of judging a man by his appearance, but rather by the content of his character.
A suggestion for America: What would King say?
Chilean-born artist Cristian Ubilla tells us what he thinks Martin Luther King Jr., would say today. For more words and videos on King's legacy, in honor of MLK Day, visit opinion.usatoday.com.
Dr. King would tell us to focus on quality. Live an always evolving life by educating yourself, formally or informally. Take advantage of opportunities to add value to your environment and community. Create opportunities in areas where there are few. Above all, be true to your own purpose and passion. "Live full, die empty."
—Viola Viki Blocker
Martin Luther King Jr., once said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." That still holds true today.
My hope is he would accept our apologies for misinterpreting much of what he said, resting on laurels. He would remind us that his fight against oppression wasn't to create a greater divide, nor to establish grounds for righteousness. It was instead a dream, a hope, a belief that we could all realize our dreams regardless of our creed.
Divided we fall; united may we conquer. Hope should prevail over darkness, for change doesn't happen unless it's guided.
He would remind us that we are all one people and that we let those seeking power and money divide us for their short-term gain and our long-term loss. He would remind us that we fail as a human race every time we destroy each other in place of working out our mostly petty differences, and that there's room for everyone's dreams still, even his own.
Fight for political gain
I think MLK would say: Stop inciting class warfare for political gain.
I think he would be astounded at the pervasive racism, homophobia and hate that defines the GOP, Tea Party and conservatives.
He would tell the GOP to rid itself of the Tea Party, which can then become a third party if it wants.
I think King would say: We need to put people to work, not keep them chained to unemployment! We need to lower our debt, not ball-and-chain our children and grandchildren with it! We need to get back to biblical principles and morals in this country!
Calls for social change
Tommy McNeill of Durham, N.C., tells us what he thinks King would say today. For more words and videos on King's legacy, in honor of MLK Day, visit opinion.usatoday.com.
I think, as a person who earned a doctorate himself, he would say to the black community: no more excuses. The resources are there to earn a good education, and the problems with discrimination are pretty much resolved to get a good job and succeed in a chosen career. You can succeed no matter what your skin color if you make the effort. Otherwise, I died for nothing.
I think he would talk about marriage.
I believe he would still speak for minority groups including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but his emphasis would be on poverty in America.
I think he would speak of the equality of all people, male or female, gay or straight, black, white, red or yellow, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu. We all suffer pain, we all want what is best for our kids and we all enjoy a good laugh.
He might say that people will only be treated as equals when they start acting like equals and not demanding special treatment because of their race and/or color.
Nobody ever accomplished greatness without seeking greater common good. We are better than this, and it is time to show it!
I think Martin Luther King would push for food for all.
—Misses Renee Boyd
He would fight for the disadvantaged of any race.
I suspect he would be dismayed at the lifestyle of our youth: There are so many fatherless children, so much drug use and violence.
I'm thinking he would talk about the Trayvon Martin shooting.
He would tell all of us to raise our kids better, so that neurosis and lack of self-respect don't direct our actions to others and rob us of compassion and character. Love them, and show it, even with just smiles or looking them in the eyes. Discipline them firmly and follow through; never issue an order that you can't get up off your duff and make sure your children do. I have seen some miserable parenting and kids who look to me, a stranger, for caring that their crappy parents are failing to give. No wonder we have so many inadequate and angry people in this country. Thanks to Dr. Spock, we have a lot less child beating, but we direct tons more insults, hostility and perpetual anger toward our kids.
I think that King would say that diversity is best accomplished by raising certain people upward instead of bringing other people down.