In years past we all have looked forward to celebrating and remembering the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as we recalled his leadership and contributions during the civil rights struggles.

During Dr. King’s life, the civil rights issues essentially amounted to holding America to its founding promise by attacking rampant discrimination and Jim Crow laws in the South. The most pressing issues today confronting minority communities have little to do with Jim Crow. But today, Dr. King would know that America is still faced with seemingly overwhelming problems: bigotry, homelessness, poverty, crime, drugs, disparities in health care, economic inequality, inequality of the criminal justice system, and educational inequality. And of course I think he would speak openly about what many people find extremely distasteful: the hateful and demeaning rhetoric of President Trump.

Dr. King would urge the government, and people from all races to realize that no community is an Island, and one of the most important facts about human beings is that we are not all alike. Yet if we are to survive, we must live in a world composed not only of differing individuals, but also of differing groups. And if we are to adjust ourselves to such a world we must understand what such differences mean, and how they may determine our individual and group destinies.

We still have deep ethnic, religious and racial prejudices in every community in America. In light of the recent horrific anti-Semitic and racial rants, Dr. King would ask us to examine our own prejudices and ask what this tells us about ourselves, and what it means, and how it affects our children. Whether or not hateful remarks are made in stressful situations or in private social settings, we must be mindful of how inappropriate and damaging these intolerant remarks are and how they affect our daily lives and the lives of our children. I think Dr. King would ask all of us to actively and sincerely work in our own communities to eliminate ethnic and racial biases.

Here on Martha’s Vineyard, we can do our part to work toward Dr. King’s dream of a world where every man, every woman, and every child can live in peace, with honor and respect.

Marie Allen lives in Oak Bluffs.