Martin Luther King, Jr. at far right, with his family
Today, January 15, marks the birth date of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who would be 78 today, were he not assassinated. He, along with countless others, helped to change institutionalized injustice and discrimination that marred America’s image as a land of equality. Although discrimination and racial injustice remain problems today, the civil rights movement helped to end post-bellum laws that segregated Blacks and other ethnic minorities, especially in the South. In the speech “I Have a Dream” (one of my favorites), which Dr. King delivered, he stated
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
He also never showed support for affirmative action (positive discrimination, as called by some), which, in my opinion, unfairly guarantees rights to people of a certain gender or racial background. In the same speech, Dr. King says
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.
He wanted people to be judged by who they were as people rather than what they were. Although racism will live on, as long as people fail to look beyond race as a factor, Americans can be sure that institutionalized racism will never once again triumph in the melting pot we call the United States of America.