Within the final scene of the 2001 HBO film “Boycott,” leaders of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott rejoice ending racial segregation in public transit by going for a bus experience.

When the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, performed by Terrence Howard, boards the bus, he turns and appears again at Martin Luther King Jr., performed by Jeffrey Wright, and asks, “You coming, brother?”

King solutions, slowly, “Nah. You all go on forward.”

The door closes and the bus pulls away from King. Because the credit roll, he’s strolling down a avenue in present-day Atlanta, acknowledged by some, together with youngsters who cease and stare, and a Black policeman and white policewoman in a squad automotive who cease to acknowledge him.

The movie concludes with King, leaning in opposition to a concrete stoop, speaking to a number of younger Black males.

It’s a brief however highly effective invitation to think about how this nation could be had he lived longer than 39 years and what he would say about america as it’s now.

It’s additionally a reminder of the ascent, descent and secular canonization of King in life and demise.

His management of the Montgomery bus boycott and civil rights motion made him world well-known, a Nobel laureate and, for a short while, one of the crucial admired males within the nation.

By the point of his assassination in 1968, he was an unpopular, polarizing determine as a result of he refused to segregate his ethical considerations and keep silent on poverty and the Vietnam Struggle or mute his denunciations of racism.

We concern the prophets whereas they reside after which honor them once they’re lifeless.

As we speak, King is honored with a nationwide vacation and celebrated as a historic determine. He’s beloved, it seems, by nearly everybody, together with politicians who, had been King alive as we speak, would denounce him as a “communist” and “un-American” for his phrases and mass protests.

These are a number of the identical ones who can quote solely from his “I Have a Dream” speech, ignoring that King mentioned it was a dream and that, just like the Promised Land, we’re not there but.

However we will divine, from what King did say and write, what he would say as we speak.

In one in all his speeches he mentioned, “As a result of I imagine that the Father is deeply involved particularly for his struggling and helpless and outcast youngsters, I come tonight to talk for them.”

Such a person would, as we speak, be talking for uninsured youngsters and adults, for the poor in Mississippi and Appalachia.

A younger dreamer who in 1963 shared his dream for the one nation he’d often called his dwelling as we speak could be standing with a brand new era of younger Dreamers preventing to remain in the one nation they’ve ever often called dwelling.

A person who in his final guide — “The place Do We Go from Right here: Chaos or Neighborhood?” — challenged America to be sincere about her crippling legacy of racism would communicate out in opposition to the bogus use of “vital race idea” to keep away from educating uncomfortable truths about U.S. historical past.

A person who led the march from Selma to Montgomery, resulting in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, would decry the evisceration of that regulation, in addition to the rising tide of voter suppression legal guidelines throughout the nation. On Monday, politicians who’re a part of these efforts will reward King, however you don’t bear in mind King by supporting the dismembering of the Voting Rights Act.

You’ll be able to’t reward the drum main of a motion to develop democracy whereas making it harder for individuals to vote and have these votes counted.

Finally, on this vacation, we finest honor King’s legacy by the alternatives we make in how we deal with others.

We make the choice to hate or love.

We select to disclaim somebody their inherent dignity, whether or not it’s demonizing these whose politics, faith, ethnicity or sexuality is completely different from ours.

We resolve if it’s proper to offer sanction to bodily violence.

Now we have the ability to make somebody’s life harder by nastiness and callousness, or to lighten their burdens.

We select to deal with one another decently — or not.

King believed that this nation may do higher by its residents and that its residents may do higher by one another.

Can we all go on forward and check out?