Forty years after he was gunned down, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., remains a focal point for countless millions. His non-violent approach to effecting social change might seem lost in today’s society, but the fact is, the once humble preacher transformed the landscape of America forever with his determined peaceful approach to radical change.

Perhaps it is fitting today that nearly every major city in across the country has a street, school or park named after him. Even more evident of his life’s work to change the way Americans think about each other, the day to honor King precedes the inauguration of America’s first African-American President.

King was a man of exceptional courage who demonstrated his belief in non-violence with steadfast dedication, despite the myriad obstacles he faced along his sojourn toward equality for all men and women. In his 13 years in the national spotlight, from 1955 until his murder in 1968, King faced death threats. His home was bombed, he was hounded by law enforcement agencies, including J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, even after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

King’s famous words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” lives on in the hearts and minds of many.

On Jan. 20, the country approaches a new era of promise in the form of a new president, he himself a man of color, 40 years after the man that made it all possible through a seemingly impossible dream of change and tolerance opened the door to freedom and equality for all Americans.