During the commemoration of the new Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington D.C. the focus of the discussion was on the nation’s economic and political disparities.
During the event King’s son said, “The problem is the American dream of 50 years ago ... has turned into a nightmare for millions” who have lost their jobs and homes. The nation has “lost its soul,” he said, “when it tolerates such vast economic disparities, teen bullying, and having more people of color in prison than in college.” And King’s sister, Rev. Elder Bernice also spoke about the parallel between the civil rights movement in the 60’s and the political and social climate for Latinos in the United States today. “There is a kinship in the struggles. Some of what is happening now resonates with what happened in the 50’s and 60’s. People being stopped, checked, profiled, arrested, and issues of people not being sensitive to families being together,” she said.
So, we may say that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is just as relevant today as it was back then as was his preoccupation for questions of poverty, and systemic economic injustice.
King believed throughout his life that attaining civil rights for southern blacks was only the first, and in some ways the easiest, step toward real equality, not just for blacks, but for all Americans. For those who have held different events to celebrate the life of this great man, it is clear that his message is still as important as ever. There is also the dream for everyone’s history to be equally celebrated.
The Afro-American population has a long history of resilience, struggle and community action. Because of their painful history they can identify with peoples from other origins facing injustice.
During the current situation of massive deportations, wrongful incarcerations and unjust treatment to the Latino population, the Afro-American leaders have called for solidarity and fairness. They are our allies in this journey toward justice and equal treatment for all.
When revisiting the story of Martin Luther King Jr., we cannot stop at the Hollywood image that is being presented, but go to the core of his writings and speeches that addressed the economic circumstances that impoverish minorities and keep them prisoners to a destiny of second-class citizens, always having to ‘prove themselves’.
This country has been built with the effort of all the migrations whether voluntary or forced. The peoples from all corners of the earth have come for gold and in their effort to find it, produced richness. The Native Americans have been generous hosts to all of those that once here have ignored them. They also have a place in the present and future of the country.
This is our country. It belongs to all of those who have contributed with their work and effort. It belongs to the Rosa Parks, the Chief Sitting Bull, the Cesar Chavez, the Luis Gutierrez and all the anonymous heroes and heroines who have made history move forward.
We may remember Martin Luther King Jr., when he said, “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
He held a continuous nonviolent struggle for the economic and social liberation of all those suffering the systemic oppression that held them captive.
Who would he advocate for today? How can we follow his lead?
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