Today marks the 50th anniversary of “The March on Washington”, and in celebration of that fact there is another memorial march being held in the same place. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous I have a dream speech in Washington, D.C. among the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In front of a crowd of over 250,000 civil rights supporters, King spoke of change, rights and equality, and the end of racism. The words that flowed through from King’s heart would later fall upon millions of text books and into the minds for generations to come, remembering what King stood and died fighting for.
Sadly today we know that people of Color still face the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. Decades later much of what King spoke of seeing in his speech has happened, but what makes such a historic event like this still relevant is that fact that the fight still isn’t over. Racism may not be as blunt and in the open as it was 50 years ago, but when an unarmed black teenage boy can be shot killed at the hands of a civilian and his killer is let go, justified by self-defense, then we still have a problem. When a black football player gets sentenced to jail for dog fighting, but a white women roams free after being responsible for the death of her own child, then we still have a problem.
Without King it would of took us a lot longer to get to where we are today as a people. Without his strong will to resist violence and his drive to exercise the first amendment who knows what life for us would be like today and we thank him. We appreciate him. However, we have to continue to fight for him. The battle maybe over, but the war is still going on. We still have a way to go before we can truly say all people are treated equally. King did not only want to help us, but he wanted to inspire others and we can’t sit back and reminisce on the past as if the job is done. We have to look back and remember what it took to see progress and finish what King started. If we truly want to see the change we speak of so frequently, then we have to get up and do something.
Today at school, the teachers all piled into the HHS Auditorium to listen to four wonderful panelists speak about how we can “Mind the Gap” with cultural differences and how we can break our stereotypes and how we think. They told us about taking a personal journey and never give up. You must except, reflect and know that your work in never done. There will always be someone that thinks different then you, but maybe through discourse we can change the world.
“Race” this word was created by white European males in the 18th century. Before that we were all just humans – people. The Human Genome project ended in 2001 because they said “we can’t find any gene for race.” So why are we still caught up on the semantics and stereotypes of “race”?
Although it has been 50 years, we cannot lose sight of the ultimate goals, which we must continue striving to achieve! Use your voice, get active and take a stand. No effort is too small and no obstacle is too large! I challenge you all to use this year as a jumping board for social justice and awareness on all fronts, whether it be race, gender, social or anything else. Desmond Tutu said, “If you are not on the side of the oppressed then you are the oppressor.” If we do nothing, we are helping the oppressors to succeed. Act Out!
In closing, I leave you with the words of Dr. King, which I believe are as true today as they were fifty years ago:
“When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.’ “