Watch CBS News

Remembering MLK: While Progress Has Been Made, Divides Civil Rights Giant Fought To End Still Exist Today

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy extends far beyond a day or a speech.

His non-violent approach to racial and economic justice was considered a threat that lead to his assassination.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has more on how the divides he tried to address still linger today.

WATCH: History Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

At the base of the steps of the courthouse in Long Island City, Queens, honoring the life of Dr. King first came with a dose of self reflection.

"I'm not afraid now because I understand that silence is complicity," said the Rev. Jeffrey Courter of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.

The US clergyman and civil rights leader Martin Lu
Martin Luther King (AFP/Getty Images)

That's why a group called Court Square Justice is speaking out.

"To not only be doing it, but to be doing it with a multi-racial group of people, it's really special because is something I haven't experienced," participant Anita Welch said.

After all, the multi-racial interfaith group emerged from a summer of protests demanding racial justice.

"I feel like Dr. King's message could not be more contemporary at this time. Both his message of unity, but also his message of radical change," Court Square Justice's Andrew Mandel said.

Radical change is not just a lofty ideal, but a reality Dr. King gave his life for.

MOREMLK Day Of Service Takes On New Meaning As Communities Face Staggering Food Insecurity

The One Hundred Black Men of New York encourage the younger generation to live out that legacy.

"Is this the dream that MLK would've had for me as a young Black man in today's society?" scholar Khadim Diop said.

A society that was rocked this summer by the repeated deaths of Black men and women killed at the hands of police, and a country where rioters would threaten the very cradle of American democracy -- with the support of some who took an oath to protect it.


While also becoming a place where voters made history by selecting Kamala Harris to become the first Black woman and person of South Asian decent to become vice president with a Congress that better reflects the diversity of America.

"Today there are over 50 African-Americans in the Congress. Over 20 Hispanics. We have an African-American vice president," former Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel said.

Rangel, now 90 years old, has the benefit of experience and time as one of the leaders who helped pave the way.

"I say this young people because we've come a long way from slavery, standing on other people's shoulders, and now it's your shoulders," Rangel said.

He's passing the baton of continuing the hard work that can't be the responsibility of one group alone.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas contributed to this report



View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.