Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would have turned 91 on his birthday Jan. 15. Instead, as we all know, he was gunned down outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee April 4, 1968.
To deny certain changes in the everyday lives of African-Americans since the civil rights movement would be foolish. It would be even more mindless, to say that African-Americans have received the same access to life, liberty and justice that was promised to all Americans.
African-American’s in this country who have been able to elevate their social status through wealth, may find more ease under the system of white supremacy. The system however, does not miss an opportunity if given, to remind them of the stigmas associated with their Black skin.
The constant images and videos of Black people being shot down by police who are funded through the public dollars, is enough to make people reflect on Dr. King’s dream and his vision for Black America, as well as other oppressed groups in the U.S.
Dr. King’s son on his father’s legacy in 2019:
“This vision that he engaged in and talked about, elements of it have become true. But the hope is that we’d be much further as a nation. I think we’re going through a metamorphosis. And what I mean by that is all of the ill, or all of the negative, has to come out for the positive to emerge because there’s no way that we can go back to the past.”
“We thought, for example, racism was resolved. We thought civil rights was resolved — certainly 10, 12 years ago. We did, especially when President Obama was elected. I didn’t feel that we were in a post-racial society because I knew racism was still very much with us, but we certainly thought we’d come further. So to get to a point where it now feels like we’re going back to the 1950s is somewhat of concern,” The New York Times
Living in a small, rural, mostly all-white town for college made me acutely aware of how white folks use Dr. King as a prop of progress and unity, yet do not engage in anti-racism work, outside of their yearly Martin Luther King celebration.
I do not know what it is about the image of Dr. King, where many feel like acknowledgment of him, is enough to fix the crisis of racism in America.
A lawyer based in New York who I follow on Instagram for his keen and critical analysis of the criminal justice system, had this to say about Dr. King’s image in the eyes of America.