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PERSPECTIVES ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY : The Foundation Has Been Laid for Us All : Dr. King set the stage and cleared the way for me to move through our system, impeded only by my own limitations.

January 20, 1992|J. PAUL BROWNRIDGE | J. Paul Brownridge is Los Angeles city treasurer

If someone had told me when I was a little boy growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s that I would be a tax accountant and lawyer for major corporations in the 1970s, a top-level finance official for municipal corporations in the 1980s and treasurer of the second-largest city in the United States in 1992, I would have said, "No way, impossible." My having reached these plateaus is directly attributable to Martin Luther King Jr.

Therefore, I believe it is important to take note of what Dr. King did before he was 40. He set the stage and cleared the way for me to move through our system basically unimpeded, except by my own limitations and constraints.

I often wonder what he would have accomplished by age 50, 60 or 70. I think we know the answer. For each time there is more understanding, each time rights are freely exercised, each time there is a graduation from a high school or college of one's choosing and each time there are elections or appointments to local, state and federal offices of those with greater awareness, sensitivity and compassion in their decision-making, Dr. KIng is accomplishing something. And he will continue to be a positive force as long as men and women are not more nearly perfect and as long as there is a need for goodwill among all human beings.

So what does this holiday mean to us all, especially the students and young adults in the work force? It means that now is the time to take stock, listen, study, reflect and plan for more positive living and giving.

Those of us who are living (the dream) must keep on giving so that all men and women have a life that is truly worth living.

The foundation has been laid and the walkway paved for all. We only have to choose the right path--education, hard work, fairness and integrity.

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