Civil Rights

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream Is Not Yet a Reality

Martin Luther King Jr. famously had a dream.

The nation he foresaw, in which fairness and equality had triumphed and no one was judged by the color of his or her skin, is not yet a reality. But significant progress has been made towards the goals the slain civil rights leader so memorably advocated more than 40 years ago. And his work continues, measured and encouraged in particular around the time of yesterday’s annual Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Among the issues still being addressed, law school classrooms remain “overwhelmingly white,” reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And there is growing concern about discrimination based on skin color, which can be difficult to prove because those affected do not fit neatly into racial categories, notes the Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, many government records about the volatile civil rights era in the 1960s are still undisclosed. However, there is pressure, in Congress and elsewhere, to collect and archive records—especially those concerning King—and to address still-unsolved lynchings and bombing cases, reports the Boston Globe.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,’’ U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) tells the newspaper. A former aide to King, he was severely beaten during a 1965 civil rights march. “The American people have a right to know what happened.’’

As noted on his Congressional web page, Lewis has suggested that providing help to Haiti, in the wake of a devastating earthquake, is one way to follow in King’s footsteps. But another is to look for opportunities, large and small, to make a positive change in our own communities.

“I can still hear him say ‘I have a dream today, deeply rooted in the American Dream,’ ” said Lewis of King, in a statement on the House floor last week. “It is fitting and appropriate that we pause, as a nation and as a people, to remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He inspired a nation and changed America forever.

“It is also fitting the while remembering his life and his contributions, that we commit ourselves to serving our communities—to becoming the change that we all wish to see in the world.”

A biography for King is provided online by the Nobel Foundation, which awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Well-known director Steven Spielberg is planning a movie on King’s life, reports Reuters.

Additional and related coverage:

ABA Young Lawyers Division: “They Had a Dream Too: Young Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement”

Bloomberg: “Leadership and Martin Luther King’s Dream”

Merced Sun-Star: “Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Celebrating legacy of civil rights leader”

Theodore Sorensen (PDF, 2006): “Protecting the Rule of Law”

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