A boy holds an American flag at the 2015 MLK March. Photo by Scott Ball.

Every year, at least once a year, we are reminded of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that “his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He didn’t live to see his dream become reality, but after 50 years, his words continue to inspire, influence, and touch our hearts. As San Antonio celebrates Dr. King’s monumental contributions to our nation, his wisdom and teachings of equality, opportunity, tolerance, and service are as important they were when they were first spoken.

My father is black and my mother is white. They married in the early ’70s and, even then, without question, they experienced discrimination and racism. My father was a salesman and when he traveled to other cities across Texas, he often had to pack his own lunches because he would not be welcome in restaurants. My mother was often judged when she was in places like the grocery store for being married to a black man. When they sought to buy a house, my mother would discover that a house was no longer on the market when she returned with her husband. Less than 40 years later, they now have a son serving in the United States Congress. People like my parents helped pave the way for a new generation of Americans to be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. 

(From right) U.S. Rep. Will Hurd poses for a photo with Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Alan Warrick II (D2) and John Michael Rangel. Photo by Robert Rivard.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd with Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Councilman Alan Warrick II (D2). John Michael Rangel looks on. Photo by Robert Rivard.

Being a person of character means being willing to serve others. Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” and he spent his life serving as an example of how to answer this question. The fastest way to break down barriers, build trust between communities, and set a new tone for the future is to serve one another. The most rudimentary way to do this is to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

I am proud to be from a city that embraces diversity.

I am proud that thousands of San Antonians came together this week to celebrate our unique culture.

I am proud that the Alamo City embodies the spirit of Dr. King’s teachings.

Toiling to achieve his own dream, Dr. King helped us as a nation get closer to realizing another vision where “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Dr. King inspired us to make some tremendous progress in bringing about the nation conceived by our founders, but there is still much more work that needs to be done. As we celebrate Dr. King’s life, we must remember that each one of us has a part to play in continuing his legacy.

Featured image: A boy holds an American flag during the 2015 MLK March.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

Other Officeholders on the Rivard Report:

Ron Nirenberg: SA Tomorrow and the Road Ahead

Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales: Priorities for 2016

Joe Krier: Austin, San Antonio Would Benefit from a Regional Airport

Mayor Ivy Taylor: My Vision for the Future

Leticia Van de Putte: San Antonio’s Economic Imperative: Education and Workforce Development

Mike Villarreal: San Antonio’s Economy Requires 21st Century Skills

Rey Saldaña: The Smart Money is on the Southside

Editor’s Note: The Rivard Report invites other elected officeholders to submit op-eds on topics of interest and importance to our readership in San Antonio, South Texas and beyond. Make them real. Email rivard@rivardreport.com with your submission.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd has represented the 23rd congressional district of Texas since 2015. This November, he is seeking re-election to Congress.