On January 15, Martin Luther King would have been 87 years old. He was America’s Gandhi bringing about change through nonviolence. His death ended his individual march for social and economic justice for all Americans, especially for Americans of color, who had endured racial prejudice, hatred and inequality since our country’s inception. His life was an example to us all as he shared with us God’s words about how we are all God’s children. Dr. Kings message resonates more than ever today, that a person should be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of ones skin. The job of fighting for racial justice still goes on. He, like Abraham Lincoln, was a man for the ages. If he were alive today what would he think about, America, now in the year, 2016 ? Would he think that race relations has improved?
I believe that he would see that even though we can point to some improvements that we still have a long ways to go towards living together in harmony, in racial harmony. Although we have elected the first minority president of the United States, I am confident that he would see through the charade of denials of their being no racism regarding how a good percentage of Americans have reacted to President Barack Obama. Code words are still used by citizens in describing minorities such as the use of the words lazy and criminals. The current President has been called the Food Stamp President as if he invented poverty and the great need for assistance that resulted from the Great Recession. Dr. King would have been particularly upset by the disregard for human life that the police have shown towards unarmed black men and how an ever increasing percentage of the prison population is black. He would look at the current police forces and wonder why they are not more representative of how the community looks. The task of working towards greater economic equality would probably be at the top of his agenda.
When I was younger and living my college years out in the traumatic 60’s, I mourned for those who shared Martin Luther King’s vision, those who died fighting the good fight for equality and racial justice. I have long wondered why those who seek change through peace and nonviolence have all met with a violent death. I miss John Kennedy and his brother Robert. I miss M. Gandhi. I very much miss the leadership, wisdom and eloquence of Martin Luther King. Life has taken away from us far too many whose struggle and courage have brought about change, real change.
One would think that Dr. King, might be scratching his head, at the statements and actions of a candidate, Donald Trump. Trump’s candidacy has a certain ring to it. He sounds very much like a candidate of another era, the former governor of Alabama, George Wallace.
It has been politically incorrect for years now to be as outrageous as Mr. Wallace was when he stood and blocked the path towards the entrance to the university of Alabama. Wallace proudly stood there announcing to the world, segregation now, segregation forever.
Mr. Trump’s campaign seems to be designed to make political incorrectness okay now. The good part of that notion is that we can now see some people for who they really are. They have been lurking in the shadows for years denying their racism, claiming that you can’t prove racism. Well, if it looks and sounds like racism, it probably is racism in spite of the denials.
The reactions of those in Charleston, South Carolina, would have pleased him. The community came together after the dreadful murders that took place in a house of God. The relatives of Jefferson Davis and Strom Thurmond stood up and made a difference, as they encouraged the removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings in the state of South Carolina. God’s love moved mountains in the aftermath of the disaster in Charleston and the reaction of the victims families showed the nation how people can change and live together as neighbors even after the pain of the loss of their family members.
We still need to remind ourselves of his lessons, which is why it is a great thing that we celebrate his birthday. It is still hard to fathom why people still harbor such hate and bigotry.
We as a nation are increasingly more like a rainbow, with each person, each citizen, interdependent on each other. They are our neighbors and our fellow church goers. We are all Americans.
HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY!