Today, the nation celebrates the birthday of American civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Most would agree, that the nation is more diverse and accepting than King might have imagined back in 1963 when he gave his “I Have A Dream” speech.

Since then, America has elected an African American as president, and the ceiling for advancement has been shattered for many people of color.

Still, for many the dream of eliminating racism, poverty and violence remains a distant dream.

Too many of us wrongly believe that “all men are created equal” is now a reality.

There is plenty of evidence that the battle needs to press on, even as progress is being made. We still experience:

- Violence on the streets in many American cities.

- Inequality in educational opportunities.

- Jobless rates that are disproportionately high among minority populations.

King was right that day in 1963, when he said, “Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.”

The New York Times in an editorial this week, wrote: “The Dr. King we choose to remember was indeed the symbolic beacon of the civil rights movement. But the Dr. King we forget worked within institutions to transform broken systems. He never positioned himself as a paragon of progress. Nor did he allow others to become complacent.”

The newspaper continued: Dr. King never imagined the election of African-Americans to office in itself as sufficient. Instead, his ‘unarmed truth’ was the need to remake all of American society. He urged us to become “creative dissenters” and hold the country “to a higher destiny.”

Individual accomplishments are important, but King would argue that we need to reach deeper into society to address the core issues.

The quest for equality will never be achieved if we don’t individually reflect on our efforts to welcome all races into our lives.