By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In times of great turmoil and great triumph, we often find ourselves looking back on our past for guidance. As the cliché saying goes, history has a way of repeating itself and can act as a guide when it comes to making a decision about the next step.
Given today’s current climate, it is not unusual to hear people invoking Martin Luther King, Jr.’s name in the name of social justice, civil rights and democracy. After all, King was a prolific speaker and a prominent figure whose words and actions, which implored peaceful and nonviolent measures, had a global impact that went beyond America’s borders.
If King were alive today, he would be 92 years old. He first became a prominent Civil Rights figure in his twenties and would remain so until his death in 1968.
As the country prepares to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which will take place this year on Monday, Jan. 18, many find themselves asking what King would think of the world today.
Would he be disappointed that civil equity has yet to be achieved? Angry that Black men, women and children continue to be killed at disproportionate rates compared to their white counterparts. Committed to keeping up the fight for racial equity? Hopeful that change would soon be coming?
No one can say for certain, but his actions and words speak for themselves and many would hedge a guess that he’d be all those things and more.
King’s wish was to live in an equitable world, a world where all people are granted their basic human rights. As expressed in his best-known speech, “I Have A Dream,” King famously said, “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.”
It’s likely that King would look at the world today and see a dream unfulfilled.
The world that exists today continues to be ripe with injustices. Some injustices such as police brutality are old, but some such as the disproportionate number of Black people dying from COVID-19 are new.
During the Civil Rights Movement, the leaders and activists and protestors demanded not only change but a better world. They marched for it. They were arrested for it. They died for it. They hoped for it. Change and improvement don’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean they are not worth fighting for.
The world today is better than it was before, but it can be better, it must be better.
King’s most famous speech is “I Have A Dream” and the thing about dreams is, there is no time limit on when they can be manifested.