Had he lived, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would be 90 today.
For many, his work remains a true and enduring symbol of uplift, particularly African-Americans. He is considered one of the most admired men in the world. In essence or ironically, whichever way you want to see it, he became the manifestation of his dream that men be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
We are light years away from his dream of a colorblind society. But we believe that we can still climb that mountaintop that he did summit.
We don’t want to say progress has not been made, just not nearly enough to fulfill his
dream. Dr. King’s legacy is about much more than electoral politics, as important as greater representation of African-Americans, people of color and women would be to him. His signature fight, of course, was for the right to vote through nonviolent action.
He would be somewhat gratified by the results of his work but not so happy that the power of the vote has subsequently been diluted and discarded through gerrymandering. As a result, we have only had two blacks elected to Congress in Massachusetts. Boston is also the only city in Massachusetts without an elected school board. Recent voting improprieties, shenanigans and court rulings in Florida, Georgia and Texas would have certainly been challenged by Dr. King in order preserve the sanctity of the vote he fought so hard to attain.
Through all of the challenges, Dr. King’s life, work and values continue to motivate and inspire, as they did Paul English, who has championed the construction of a memorial to the civil rights leader and his wife, Coretta.
Some may not readily connect Dr. King to economics. But it should go without saying that a bedrock of the civil rights movement is economic in nature, whether it was the bus boycott or other economic sanctions against injustices. Dr. King’s last act before his assassination was the fight for fair pay for Memphis sanitation workers. Today, Dr. King would see economic disparity among our people and no doubt engage in breaking down barriers to achieving parity.
A most wonderful hallmark of Dr. King’s legacy is his challenge to us, the African-American community, to work for our own empowerment. When a recent Federal Reserve report showed the worth of a white family to be $234,000 compared to $8 for an African-American family, former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson began mapping out the basics to the road to financial recovery.
We are on a journey to the dream of Dr. King. And that journey may not be over in this lifetime but as Dr. King did for us we shall do for others and those to come after us.
Dr. King stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We are fighting for your dream Dr. King!
Happy birthday Dr. King.