Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Dr. King’s assassination was one of the most devastating events of the twentieth century. It did not affect only the black community — it affected anyone who believed (and still believes) in “liberty and justice for all.”
But his legacy lives on.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s, while painful at the time, has shown tremendous results. With few exceptions, children don’t look at each other with race in mind. I’d like to think that equal employment opportunity and affirmative action are no longer (or at least less) necessary. Most amazing of all, tomorrow is the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.
It is so heartwarming to read these words and to realize how far we have come. That after 45 years such racism still exists as that which King speaks of is a tragedy. But 45 years is only two generations. My grandfather had some choice opinions about African-Americans, and I do not in any way share his closed-minded views. That minds can be changed for the better in two generations is a very good thing. By the time that I have grandchildren my dream is that we will have come that much farther in realizing equality for all.
Yet there is farther to go. There are still racially-motivated crimes in every city across the nation. African-Americans are still underrepresented in our colleges and universities. Drugs and crime are prevalent in the inner cities, cutting short lives and extinguishing bright young minds.
Read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King today. Keep his dream alive in your thoughts and actions. “[African-Americans'] destiny is tied up with [whites'] destiny,” wrote King. Humanity is never truly free until every last person is individually free. This is King’s mandate for us in order that we may make the world a better place for everyone.