The past year has been one of considerable change on NikeTalk, and, if you've been with us for awhile, I'm sure you'd agree that the overwhelming majority of these changes have been positive. Unfortunately, our new, modern layout no longer affords us the opportunity to run our old Dr. King tribute banner, which we'd displayed proudly each year: Although we can't replace the banner, I thought we might start a new tradition and mark the occasion together by discussing Dr. King's legacy in a conversation to be featured on our front page. And, frankly, at a time when our schools are more segregated than they were in the 1960's, when over 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, when our country is still besieged by violence and hatred, this is a conversation that demands to be at the forefront. Too often, and for too many, January 21st passes as a day of complacency and self-congratulation. And while Dr. King is justly associated with peace, "True peace," he reminded us, "is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." While it is certainly both necessary and vital to acknowledge the sacrifices of all those who've suffered immeasurably to help us reach this point, we cannot truly honor those sacrifices without looking into ourselves and asking how we can help build a better world. - "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?" "Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of aerodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." "As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent." - On December 4th, 2000, almost one year after NikeTalk opened to the public, a small plaque in Dr. King's honor was placed at the Northwest end of the Tidal Basin, just a few feet from the spot of the current memorial. It's a path I've traced countless times over the years. Every time I reached that little, nondescript plaque, one so often and so easily overlooked by passersby, I would pause for a moment in reverence. Over $107 million was eventually raised for the memorial, which finally opened last August. Even before NikeTalk had the means to donate to charity, I fantasized about contributing a substantial sum to help finance the construction, so that I and future generations would have something of substance and permanence to accompany the invisible monument Dr. King's oration has created around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And while Dr. King is more than worthy of the grandest monument we could possibly build in his honor, I came to realize that, had he a say in the matter, he'd have greatly preferred to spend $100 million helping to realize his ideals in flesh and blood, not in granite and marble. We should be building living monuments to love, peace, and justice. There can be no doubt that Dr. King has strongly influenced our call to service. Community is both an opportunity and an obligation. To be at our best, we must bring out the best in each other and work together for the benefit of all. Though it's an admittedly minor gesture, I thought today would be as good a day as any to announce our recent donation of $4,830 to the Harlem Children's Zone. Though best associated with its Promise Academy charter schools, Harlem Children's Zone offers a suite of programs and services to residents throughout its 97 block "Children's Zone" in Harlem. Dr. King publicly supported employment and education programs for young people in Harlem, such as those developed by Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU), an organization founded by Dr. Kenneth Clark and Cyril DeGrasse Tyson. He expressed his support for these programs beautifully in a 1965 interview with Playboy magazine: This donation, one of the last donations we made in 2012, officially puts us over the $175,000 mark in donations to date. In 2013, it's our goal to contribute an average of $5,000 in donations each month. We'll continue to support education, social justice, and disaster relief efforts. And that's a start, but we can't stop there. If Dr. King were still with us, he'd have turned 84 on January 15th. I know he would've been heartbroken to see people robbing and hurting each other over pairs of $200 sneakers, often assembled by other young people who still struggle to earn what most would consider a living wage. These days, Michael Jordan isn't the one making those shoes cool. You are. Many of us are now in our twenties and thirties. Young people in our communities look up to us just as we looked up to older kids and young adults when we were in our early teens. Former and current NikeTalk members have gone on to record hit albums, play in the NBA, design shoes worn by MVPs, and work for the very brands we once idolized. Now, we're the ones in positions of influence. How will you use it? Fashion and athletics helped us define and express ourselves when we were young. What are the standards that we set for ourselves now - and what are the expectations we're setting for others? The sneaker industry, and the fashion industry in general, is built on appearances. It's not about truth so much as merely dressing the part. We have whole forums dedicated to distinguishing fake from authentic when it comes to sneakers, but today, at least, we should focus on being authentic people. Real justice, real peace, and real love aren't outfits, images, or accessories. Our values should shine through in every aspect of our lives. In his absence, Dr. King challenges all of us to BE the embodiment and personification of our ideals. Let's be better. Let's make each other better. Let's make our communities better. Let's make our world better. Let's make our future better. That's what today means to me. What does it mean to you?