I went to a Martin Luther King commemoration yesterday. The speaker, an associate professor of architecture at Washington University, challenged us big-time.

Bob Hansman, who is white,  is an artist and activist who set up his art studio in the Clinton-Peabody Housing Project and challenges his students to work there with him.

White Americans have largely left the inner city and live comfortable lives in the suburbs, was the gist of his message. We think that we’re doing great things for racial reconciliation when we befriend a coworker, perhaps, or something like that. But what about the people in the projects? They are still languishing in poverty, far removed from our comfortable lives.

Martin Luther King wasn’t just a dreamer; he was an activist. Many of the things King said were bruisingly accusatory and real. Hansman read some of them to us.

I have done some things for racial reconciliation in the past. But what am I doing right now? How am I helping the children of the projects, who may not have enough to eat?  Hansman challenged me big time. If all of us did something, things would change.