From my earlier days as a bookstore clerk, I know early January is the target date for many publishers to release their latest "King" related book. Such releases are timed to educate and help readers enter into the tumult of the Civil Rights Era through the lens of scholarly retrospect and the efforts of a multitude of biographers and writers inspired by King to engage his thought while offering contemporary critique of what parts of the "Dream" have yet to be realized or are in danger of retrogression.
Personally, I gravitate toward reading again the modern epistle to America written by Dr. King while sitting in a jail cell. The "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" speaks like the rest of the King corpus of sermons, interviews, writings and speeches: searing words meant to evoke the prophets of old while not letting today's generation off the hook (that of King's day and those we live these days). Here is one of the many links to the full letter online so you can read it as well: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
In particular, I recall a section where King engages in a matter of rightly remembering the past. Too often, we tend to yearn for nostalgia and forget how things really played out, especially for those marginalized by the victor's narrative. King preaches to the choir here, calling his fellow Christians to remember rightly:
"There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century...."
Powerful words from the 1960s continue to summon the Church and society alike. Ponder with me what it means to be part of the faithful these days. And do not keep Martin's legacy "past tense" (or worse yet, only remembered once per year with a service of worship or honored by just a single day of service).