Today we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a person who stood up against hate and injustice armed only with the conviction that righteousness would triumph over evil. Most of us cannot imagine the courage it took to endure the intimidation, the ridicule, the threats, and the venom from the establishment. Most of us cannot imagine the fears and doubts he must’ve felt as water hoses doused and attack dogs mauled his followers. Yet he overcame those obstacles and stood firm in the belief that civil disobedience was the ultimate weapon in a democratic society.
Four decades later, many of the inequalities he marched against have been diminished, but many still remain. Education is unequal between the haves and have-nots. Healthcare is unequal. Political representation is unequal. Today, the lines between African-Americans and Caucasians is not as much the battlefront as is the great chasm between those who have an excess of wealth and those who struggle just to survive. I’m not implying that racism is dead. Far from it. We still have far to go to reach a point when people are truly judged by their character and not their skin tone, but today the biggest struggle is to find a way to close that chasm so that all Americans have an equal opportunity to compete, not just those born into privilege.
In a democratic republic, we have the opportunity to change the system and the establishment without raising weapons. We can change the course of history and rewrite the future of this nation by standing together and refusing to surrender, even in the face of insurmountable odds. I know this not as some abstract concept untested in reality but as a battle-tested truth. I know because it happened before, and today, we honor the leader of that movement.
“We shall overcome.”