Dr. King's efforts to end racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience such as sit-ins and other non-violent means rewarded him by becoming the youngest person to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, the thing that makes this year's celebration of Dr. King's accomplishments even more memorable is that it transitions right into January 20th, the date every newly elected president will be inaugurated. As we all know, this year our first non-white president, Barack Obama, will be sworn into office. So, while we exude joy for this historic inauguration and remember the life of Dr. King, let's take a look back at some of Dr. King's famous words. An excerpt from his I Have a Dream speech, reveals some of the things he hoped to one day see:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." Link
So, how far have we come? Rhetorical; Don't bother trying to give a definitive answer because most people will have differing views on how to quantify race relations today. However, we can say that some areas of the United States are much more progressive than other areas. For example, all the way from the hinterlands of Mississippi there was a racial barrier that only recently collapsed. The public high school of Charleston, Mississippi today houses both black and white students since being integrated in 1970. However, until the spring of 2008, the school had separate proms for the white and the black students. According to National Public Radio, this phenomenon was so intriguing that is was recorded and documented into Prom Night in Mississippi. The documentary even made into this year's Sundance Film Festival. While this event that took place in Charleston, Mississippi shows us that some parts of the country are moving at slower pace than others in the fight to put an end to racial discrimination, it still is a move.
Therefore, as we all witness the historic inauguration of our nation's first non-white president, we should think about how far have we really come and have Dr. King's dreams been realized.
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