Dr. Martin Luther King would be very disappointed in the state of the world today. As many pause to honor the birthday of one of the greatest civil rights leaders this century has known, it also serves as a reminder of how far the country still has to go. In his 1963, I Have a Dream speech, the preacher spoke of a revolutionized nation which functioned in a more civilized manner. The recent events in Chicago and abroad, such as police brutality, black-on-black crime, diminished hope, poverty and the lack of opportunity all reveal a dream unrealized.
Movements led by King have no doubt changed the political landscape of the United State of America. For the first time in history, the country has an African-American leader; one who not only saw victory in the first election, but the world witnessed the landmark moment of back-to-back terms. Since the time of King’s speech, there have been achievements in the uphill fight for equality, however, the inequalities which yet remain, are an obvious disappointment to the legacy of a man who fought for a better tomorrow.
Nearly 48 years after his death, police brutality is at an all-time high, but so is black-on-black crime. Since King’s tragic murder, the black middle class has grown and more African-Americans are obtaining diplomas and degrees in hopes of contributing to every aspect of society, yet, racism still prevails in a country built on the tentacles of a just nation. King would be very disappointed that after all of these years, America has not moved further on the journey towards equality.
The world has advanced in so many areas such as medicine, science and technology, as well as equality for those in the LGTBQ community, but it lacks those same consistencies in the black community in which King fought so feverishly. The black man exists in a state of code red when it comes to the men in blue. Although frustrating, this pales in comparison to the disappointment King would feel as it relates to black people murdering their own.
The manner in which police devalue the average black American is a tragedy, but on this day where the nation honors the life of a man who fought on behalf of “colored” people one must acknowledge that much of the killing black people face comes from within its own race. In cities like Chicago where police are killing black men at an alarming rate, the truth is black men in the same city kill each other with terrifying frequency. This can no longer be ignored. It is a travesty; one that would have been very disappointing to the late civil rights leader.
The man of peace who sought to shift the conscience of America to a place where love truly prevailed, would “turn over in his grave” at the staggering statistics which outline the country’s moral state. In a memorable sermon delivered at Detroit’s Second Baptist Church in 1954, King said:
The real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness—that’s the atomic bomb that we’ve got to fear today. The problem is with the men. Within the heart and the souls of men. That is the real basis of our problem.
This atomic bomb which King so eloquently used to describe the state of the world decades ago still rings true today. It is a perfect reference to the toxic reality black America yet faces. The tragedy, however, is that it not only refers to the degree in which racism directs and justifies the country’s current state, but it also carries a disgracing veracity of the manner in which black people deal with their own kind.
Dr. Martin Luther King would be very disappointed in the current state of the world. He lived and died for a level of equality that many have yet to understand and longed for a country where peace and love would prevail. However, for this to ever materialize the mentality of Americans must change; not only from others towards black people but more importantly from those within this same community as it relates to their brothers and sisters. The goal is not for the dream to live on, but for Americans to wake up and live the dream. Happy Birthday to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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