As Martin Luther King Day approaches, many students are gearing up for an exciting day of events held on campus to honor the late King’s work for the civil rights movement.
Many students I know are only excited for this day because it means they have a day off of school/work. To all students that feel this way, shame on you. Martin Luther King Day is so much more than a day off. It’s a day to remember the struggles of the past. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work during the Civil Rights Movement is still relevant today.
I’m a white male, so I don’t and never will know what it’s like to be a part of an oppressed group of people. To be honest, it doesn’t feel right that I’m writing this article.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor, humanitarian, activist and considered by many to be the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He was one of the organizers of the March on Washington and was a charismatic speaker, well known for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King Jr.’s goal was to live up to the nation’s true meaning of its creed, which was that everyone was created equal. When King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, many supporters of King Jr. around the United States participated in riots (known as the Holy Week Uprising) that left some buildings in ruins.
People have compared the Ferguson situation to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. When Michael Brown was murdered, many people in Ferguson began to protest by marching through the streets with their hands raised in the air chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” as Brown had his hands in the air when killed by Officer Darren Wilson.
Since the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, people around the United States have been protesting vigilante killings and police brutality, which has gotten increased attention from the media. It’s unfortunate that no matter what we do, we keep coming back to this moment that leaves a lot of innocent people dead.
My favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote is, “We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” It’s a quote that’s still relevant, as people in the world today still live in prejudice and oppression.
It’s important for not just students, but everyone to recognize that oppression, prejudice and racism still exist in this world. And it will probably exist for a long time to come, if not forever. What we can do, as human beings, is to recognize that these problems still exist.
No matter what people say, I believe history repeats itself. In order to change history and to truly carry out Martin Luther King Jr.’s wish, we need to come together and work towards a future that isn’t ruled by oppression.