50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

Samantha Mathewson

Fifty years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington to deliver his “I Have a Dream Speech” in order to shed light on the political and social challenges African Americans were facing at that time.

While it may be seen as though we are moving closer towards King’s dream with our first African American President leading our country through this anniversary, I truly believe that when the layers of every American are peeled away, we are moving farther from his dream and distorting the meaning of true racial equality.

While both the events that occurred 50 years ago and the commemoration of those events are of importance today, what they represent is lost in the limelight. Racism is still a political issue today, and may forever remain a struggle.

Racism goes hand-in-hand with stereotyping, and still too often, the moment people open their eyes and look around them, they make the cruel assumptions King was fighting against. I think King would say that he does not see the progress he envisioned and even died for.

While he is honored for his efforts in many ways, remembering him has become more of the focus than actually following through with the efforts he spoke about. For example, nearly every town in America has a Martin Luther King street or boulevard named after him and those are the areas that are most dangerous, impoverished, and crime-ridden.

“Birds of a feather flock together,” and Americans segregate themselves. While there are still not separate bathrooms, water fountains, or designated seating on public transportation, we pick our friends. There has been some progress, and socially we have become more mixed than strictly black or white, however, I believe that as a whole, we are still as selfish and single minded as we were 50 years ago.

The lingering reminisce of inequality is still present in today’s workforce, crime and violence statistics, and even poverty. There are laws to prevent these stereotypes from being the driving force behind actions, and they may be subdued or not as prominent, but they are still present.

There are always two sides of a story, but the truth is equality should only have one. It should be simply defined and enforced, but as far as progress goes towards that, it’s slow. You can’t control the racism in everyone, but you can control it in yourself. If every American took efforts towards working on themselves and taking to heart what King dreamt, then maybe cohesive efforts could be made to propel us forward toward his dream of change and freedom. Right now, on the surface men are created equal, however if you want to get technical, many of those equal men have a lot of racism running through their veins.

I not only question what he would say now, but I question one thing that I think many other American’s do; what would society be like today if King was still here to fight for his dream?