“And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead,” Martin Luther King Jr. said in his infamous I Have a Dream speech.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is a federal holiday in the United States, and the day makes me reflect on civil rights in the US and around the world. Yesterday, I read his I Have a Dream speech in full, and while every passage was rich and powerful, a few sentences were significant in regard to travel.

“We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.” 

Dr. King uses “We” to refer to black Americans during the time, and this sentence is used as an example to show the injustice he and other black Americans faced in the society.

When I travel, I always think about money or the cost of travel. For me and most other penny-pinching travelers, money is the common barrier or obstacle preventing desires to go abroad. Today, in order to stay in a hostel or hotel, I need to have the necessary amount of money.

But while I and others are concerned with being turned away from lodging due to not having enough money, many black Americans were turned away from places to stay because of the color of their skin. Even today, housing discrimination exists. Traveling and finding accommodation is stressful and hard enough, and so, I cannot begin to fathom how difficult it would be to face discrimination when trying to book a place to stay. Although many strides have been made in race equality, we still live in a society that discriminates based upon the color of one’s skin and not the character of them.

After reading Dr. King’s speech, I am reminded of Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” which is engraved on a plaque and can be found near the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”

As I walk, fly, sail and ride around the world, I always will heed Dr. King’s wonderful advice. We, as humans, must always strive to do better each and every day. We all must continue to make changes for the betterment of humanity.

How has Martin Luther King Jr. inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.