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Atlanta community leaders reflect on Dr. King's dream, the push to not water it down

“We have a lot of dark history and that unfortunately continues to perpetuate itself in our presence,” Dr. Bernice King said.

ATLANTA — As the world reflects on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, his Beloved community here in metro Atlanta is reflecting on The Dream.

And that reflection comes as the fight for justice and equality continues on the heels of social unrest and Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

Atlanta shared him with the world, but Dr. King had one hometown. And with community events throughout MLK Day, his hometown gathered to keep his real message alive.

Civil Rights activist and attorney Gerald Griggs said the Dr. King quotes that are all over social media on days like this need to be matched with action and intentionality.

“I always push back on people that quote Dr. King but don’t live Dr. King,” Griggs said. “Dr. King was a phenomenal advocate and activist for making America be what it said on paper for everybody."

Griggs goes on to say that activism matters, advocacy matters and being a voice for the voiceless matters now more than ever.

“If you’re not working towards these things, do not quote him on this day. Today is to reaffirm our dedication to justice the other 364 days of the year,” he said.

Dr. Bernice King repeatedly reminds people on her social media platforms that her father was assassinated. She said that history should not be watered down, and her father’s quotes should not be misused.

“We have a lot of dark history and that, unfortunately, continues to perpetuate itself in our presence,” King said.

As Jan. 18 honors the life and legacy of Dr. King, Atlanta community organizer and leader Marcus Coleman said that it shouldn’t be used as a ‘feel-good’ moment. Coleman is the founder of the ‘Save OurSelves’ organization.

“I just don’t like to get things watered down,” Coleman said.

He said the greatest way to honor Dr. King, and all the civil rights legends who are now ancestors, is to continue doing the work.

“Coming on the heels of the uprising and the revolution of 2020, there is a political awakening and awareness and education that’s happening," Coleman said. "Something that I know Dr. King and others would be extremely proud of.”

Griggs said the movement now needs the spirit of the past, to push forward in fulfilling The Dream to reach its fullest potential.

“If you’re not marching with Black Lives Matter, if you’re not protesting for Ahmaud, or protesting for Breonna, or protesting for George Floyd, you would not have marched with Dr. King,” he said.

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