Fifty-two years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream with the world. He envisioned a world in which whites and blacks had the same opportunities and could see past one’s skin color. Dr. King wanted us all to love each other.
As I look around today, I must ask myself if Dr. King would say we have “overcome”. In all honesty, I think we have progressed in many areas, but we still have much work to do. Why do I say this? Take a good look around you. Go ahead. Do it. Look at your neighborhood, church, and schools within your community. Are they diverse? We may hate to admit it, but if we’re honest, we can probably identify at least one neighborhood that was predominantly comprised of one ethnic group years ago. Now, that same neighborhood has a completely different ethnic group there, and the quality of the homes, schools, and businesses are no longer “top notch”. Are we afraid to live together? Are we afraid other ethnic groups will “bring our neighborhood down”?
Flip through the channels on your television. Look at the billboards as you drive. Listen to the radio. What kind of shows, movies, songs and advertisements do you hear? Did Dr. Martin Luther King die so we could promote drugs, sex, money, and the need for power in all forms of media? Why then are these images commonly associated with African Americans? Some may disagree, but I find it odd that Denzel Washington didn’t win an Oscar as a lead actor until his role in Training Day. Halle Berry didn’t win an Oscar until her nude role in Monsters Ball. I think Dr. King would want African Americans to not only have the same employment opportunities as others, but to also make and be known for positive contributions to society.
Skim through your local newspaper. Or just think back to the past year of national news. We have quite a few cases in which civilians and the police alike have used excessive force against people of color. Dr. King’s dream was to have a society in which African Americans were no longer victims of police brutality. When I think of cases like Eric Garner, I can only imagine what Martin Luther King would say about our journey to overcoming hatred and discrimination.
I challenge each and every one of you to consider your role in helping Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream to become a reality. Are you a part of the problem or the solution? Not only must we be careful to avoid stereotyping and discriminating others, but we must make sure we are living out our purpose and making a difference in the world.