How Far Have We Come Since Martin Luther King’s Death?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I have a dream and his portrait.

We are currently celebrating the impact of Martin Luther King on this federal holiday. He was a figurehead in the civil rights and racial justice movement before he was assassinated. His life ended too soon while he was having such incredible impact of raising awareness while attempting to bring our country together around the issue of correcting racial injustice.

He repudiated hate and sought to bridge the racial divide by advocating relentlessly for equal rights for all races, creeds and colors. He certainly was an historic leader and pacesetter for racial equity in our country. 

I ran across this article by the BBC written by Jake Horton in this past year. It features an over-view of how far African Americans have come since the 1960. It looks at several issues that are important to African Americans. Mr. Horton reviews statistics on family wealth, poverty, college attendance, unemployment, wages and the representation in Congress and the Senate. Although progress has been made in some areas we still have quite a ways to go to achieve true equity in this country.

Notably missing in this study is what is going on in the criminal justice system. There are certainly skewed statistics that show how much progress has not been made for African American citizens.

Here is the link to this article which I think is revelatory.

Unfortunately, we are still witnessing evidence of intense racial bias and inequity in our country. There has also been such hateful social media and corresponding activities that have emerged against people of color from many different walks of life. This kind of bias should not characterize a country where we believe that all men (and women) are created equal under God. 

I appreciate so much that there are acts of service going on all over the country to help us remember those in need no matter what their race. I grieve at the divisions that are still glaringly apparent in our politics and many of our societal constructs. Perhaps as we remember Dr. King we can also remember the dream that he had for all Americans to walk hand-in-hand to a place of peace, care for one another and compassion for all of our fellow citizens.

Gerry Vassar


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