Updated: Jan 9, 2019
Is Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream Fading?
Written by: Jordan Bowles
Edited by: My Identity Mag Team
On April 4th, 1968 the US experienced a phenomenon that shifted the course of the 1960s Civil Rights movement: the death of renowned activist #DrMartinLutherKingJr. In his famous “I Have A Dream” speech that took place in Washington D.C. on August 28th, 1963, some of the key issues that he elaborated on was the oppression that African-Americans experienced by the hand of white supremacists, also the hope that one day racial barriers could be broken and American citizens could embrace the dream of #unityindiversity and #inclusion and make it into a reality.
Since his death, people of color, especially within the black, community saw change and opportunity arise over the following decades. During the aftermath of his death, a national holiday was created in Dr. King’s honor and was made official by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. America would see people of color make amazing strides in terms of “crossing the racial barrier.” American citizens would see people of color and Caucasians sharing time together on television and movie screens, working together in the educational system, and holding office in the political world. Furthermore, there are over 1,000 streets named after Dr. King worldwide. Dr. King’s dream, hard work and determination allowed American history to take place when Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States elected in 2008 and even won a second term.
It was a slow and steady progression, but the dream of eradicating systemic oppression against people of color actually seemed tangible. However, in the year 2019 there seems to be regression on the positive initiatives for minority groups. Rather than a unification of all ethnicities and racial identities there has been an upsurge of divisive tactics and words that have painted people of color in a negative light and has caused a significant amount of social unrest in the American community. In this new era, is Dr. King’s dream of #unity, #diversity, and #inclusion still manifesting? Or, is it fading with the onslaught of recent social and political unrest among all racial groups? Does pushing an agenda that insinuates that people of color are innately susceptible to crime really benefit American society as a whole? Or, does it create fear and divisiveness among the human race? We learned from Dr. Lincoln Sloas’ article, “Uncover the Truth About Race and Crime” that intraracial crime is in fact more pervasive than interracial crime.
We learned from Dr. Lincoln Sloas’ article, “Uncover the Truth About Race and Crime” that intraracial crime is in fact more pervasive than interracial crime.
As we look back in recent years, it appears that there is a reversion back to a time where black people are experiencing hardship because of one’s racial background. When we further examine the events that involved unnecessary police brutality against African-Americans, and the seemingly recurring trend of Caucasians repeatedly calling the police on innocent African-Americans. Statistical data from https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/ details that in 2017 police killed 1,147 people, and even though black people only make up 13% of the population in America, 25% of the 1,147 killed were black people. In the year 2015, 30% of black people that were killed were unarmed, as opposed to white people which was 21%.
The way minority groups are being portrayed in the media parallels how people are treated in society (i.e. DACA, the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, the Dakota Access Pipeline), but how do these events really reflect Dr. King’s dream in our current societal era? According to the New York Times, between the years of 2014-2016, 15 black people died during a confrontation with a police officer, but only 3 police officers were actually convicted of their charges. It is important to pay attention to how the media portrayed these victims in the headlines and news stories covering these events. Oftentimes, black victims of police brutality are actually villainized. News media outlets have dug into the black victims past and find “spotty or questionable” history on the victim to almost seemingly justify why the black victim was killed in the first place. This is a distinct representation of how the current social and political climate reflects an atmosphere that is completely opposite to what Dr. King protested and ultimately lost his life for.
Some might say that our progression on race relations has ultimately reverted back to the past. However, progress is still being made today, and while there are definite setbacks that we are dealing with, it would be negligent not to acknowledge the advancement that has taken place for people of color. For example, towards the end of the 2018 year the United States underwent several gubernatorial political races. Mr. Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, was the state of Florida’s first black nominee for governor. In Georgia, Ms. Stacy Abrams was the first black woman to be nominated for governor in that state as well. While both of these candidates lost their electoral races, the progress that they made demonstrates that the hardworking efforts of people of color to be seen and treated as equal to their white counterparts is still possible and alive and well.
We must also highlight the women of color who have secured positions in Congress during midterm elections. To name a couple, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland of the Democratic party were the first Native American women in history to be elected into positions in Congress.
We must also highlight the women of color who have secured positions in Congress during midterm elections. To name a couple, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland of the Democratic party were the first #Native American women in history to be elected into positions in Congress. So what does this mean? This demonstrates that while there are those who believe in pushing a divisive agenda, there are still those who strongly believe in Dr. King’s dream and work hard daily to continue to bring it to fruition. It is our responsibility to work hard, educate ourselves, and do research to help secure influential and concrete positions to help dismantle any agendas set to incriminate people solely based on their color of skin. We must make sure that Dr. King did not die in vain, and with the progress that people of color continue to make in spite of efforts to systematically oppress them, we, as Americans are on the right path.
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“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King Jr. did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love…. What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” ―Robert F. Kennedy