So I was thinking about what today is and what/who this holiday represents. I can't help but wonder what Dr. King would think about the state of our country and what role he would play in the continued fight for justice and equality. Would he still be active in the struggle? How many more comparable leaders would he have groomed and mentored to follow his footsteps and continue his legacy?
Although we've made great strides forward as a nation, we've simultaneously taken tremendous leaps back. The phrase, "The more things change, the more they stay the same", rings true. Many of the problems faced during the civil rights movement and addressed in the famed, I Have a Dream speech, are still obstacles we have yet to overcome today.
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy...Now is the time to lift the nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment...There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality...No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream Speech at the March on Washington, August 1963
In the new millennium, we're still battling excessive police brutality and the wrongful murders of black men (and women). The leader of the free world is one who endorses hatred, misogyny, and divisiveness. He has made it more comfortable for people to display their true colors of racism and bigotry. We're in the middle of the longest government shutdown in the history of the country, where hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid, some still reporting to work with no paycheck at the end of their 80 hours. Various government assistance programs are being adversely effected, all for a ridiculous wall that is being deemed as necesssary under the guise of concern for border control. Black men still account for the largest percentage of the prison population. These are just some of the hardships we face today. Even though circumstances seem bleak and we may experience feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, I continue to hold on to my faith in God, but also in Dr. King's dream, "I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." We've come a long way, but we haven't quite reached the mountaintop. Let's keep striving and do whatever is in our power (vote, educate, be active in our communities, mentor, etc) to get us closer to seeing his dream come to fruition.