(CNN) The upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday takes on added significance this year, on what would have been a special birthday for the iconic civil rights leader. On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 years old.
He inspired American citizens, presidents, and the nation-state to take moral stands that entailed political consequences, something sorely missing from our national public and civic discourse. The issues of racism, poverty, voter suppression, housing inequality, unemployment, violence, and war that plagued King’s era remain. However, the key difference between then and now is the evolution of the civil rights struggle from one dominated by a singular voice to a contemporary landscape featuring multiple leaders who, in the best tradition of King, are stirring national debate over the meaning of freedom, democracy, justice, and citizenship.