As we reflect on this historic day, we must ask ourselves: “Are we really free?” The significance of the birthday of a man who changed so many hearts and ideals should forever not be taken lightly.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. chose peace over war; chose action over rhetoric and more importantly chose to show content of ideas. Today, even though we celebrate his birth, it is our duty to reflect on his legacy and “Dream”.
For many, the election and reelection of a black president represented the fulfillment of that dream. It showed a more receptive America, many felt included and part of the system. But did it really fulfill that dream of equality?
There’s no doubt that this is a nation that has been changing over the decades. That some liberties are reachable by minorities and that today, there’s a bigger opportunity for all. But did it really fulfill that dream of equality?
In my humble opinion, freedom is no longer a measure by the number of chains you have attached to your foot, or by the seat in the bus that you can occupy. Freedom goes beyond the appearance of being free.
When I analyzed the National Reading and Comprehension statistics and learned that from the 75% that have shown proficiency in 4th grade: 72% are White, 7% are African American and 10% are Hispanic. In 8th grade: 74% White, 6% African American and 10% Hispanic. In 12th Grade: 75% White, 5% African American and 7% Hispanic¹. Something is telling me that we are far from fulfilling that dream.
In arguably his most famous speech Dr. King Jr. said: “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.” And I reflect on those words, if our children can’t properly read and comprehend what they are reading, they can’t get the proper education and ultimately build a good character for which they’ll be judged by.
Unless we educate all of our children equally, we won’t find that freedom that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about decades ago. To me, it is more than electing a president; freedom is enabling our children to a true opportunity to exploit all their potential. The status of our freedom is “Work in Progress”. Celebrate the birth of Dr. King Jr., but more importantly reflect on his dream.
1. Reference: National Association of Educational Progress