50 years ago today Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis. He was there to protest with the sanitation workers about wage inequality.
50 years later things have changed. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Wage inequality is getting worse. Teachers are on strike in Oklahoma following the teacher strike in Kentucky. And we’ve got a racist in the White House.
Holidays are supposed to mean something, certainly more than just an excuse for a three day weekend and a white sale at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, not that I have anything against a long weekend or a good sale for that matter. This holiday that we observe today is one that is supposed to give us reason to take pause and ponder how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in matters of race in this country. This past year has given us shining examples of both.
I expect like many of you I was brought to tears last election night that this country, a country long plagued by issues of race elected it’s first African American president. Filled with both relief and excitement I experienced a high and pride I had never had before during a national election. As this past year has unfolded the ugly sobering facts of just how big a part of our society racism is have become all too evident. Displays of unashamed racism and bigotry are a regular feature of every teabagger rally. Images of the president of The United States in either white face or dressed as a voodoo witch doctor have become common enough to no longer shock. As the epic and tragic events in Haiti unfolded over the past week the most disgusting noises heard in American politics since the civil rights movement of the 60s was heard coming out of the mouths of some of the right’s better known pundits. So on this first Martin Luther King Day since the inauguration of American’s first African American president I hope we’ll all take a moment to pause and ponder just how much of Dr. King’s work is still left to be done.
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