“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,” said American Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famed 1963 speech 'I Have a Dream' that heralded an end to discriminations in the American society.
As the United States observes the 25th Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, world has immemorial incidences of non-violence movements to look back to, which curbed exploitations and discrimination on the basis of race, caste, color, creed and more, prevalent in the then civil societies.
King, who was assassinated in 1968, is seen as a national hero in improving civil rights and human rights situation in the US. Many events are scheduled to mark Luther King, Jr. Day, which has been declared a federal holiday.
Praising King’s work, President Barack Obama urged individuals to engage in community service works for a better civil society.
Martin Luther King, Jr. lived his life for others, dedicating his work to ensuring equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. I encourage Americans to observe this holiday in honor of Dr. King's selfless legacy by volunteering in their own communities and by dedicating time each day to bettering the lives of those around us, Obama told the media.
Celebrated every third Monday of January since 1986, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an reminiscent of the civil rights movement in the US that aimed at granting equal rights to African Americans. King became the prominent leader in the movement who succeeded in boycotting discriminatory acts in state and federal law with the help of his non-violent activism, inspired by those of Mahatma Gandhi’s in Indian independence movement, through speeches, ideologies and civil disobedience to bring the desired social changes.
Almost 25 years down the line, if not a woman president, the United States did get at least the first African American president Barack Obama in 2009. It won’t be preposterous to assume that America has been coming of age from racial discriminations since the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the nation observed King’s 82nd birthday on January 15, Americans have set the Internet abuzz with reverent thoughts about the activist.
“Although it's a day off for many workers and students, many people are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by treating it as a day ‘ON’ to help others,” Nicole Collier, a TV journalist, writes on her Facebook.
“It may be Blue Monday today, but I like to think of it as Martin Luther King Day instead. Live the dream people,” reads a twitter message.
However, there are still some actualities that are not so tangible. Electing an African American president is one apparent factor, but according to data released by the country’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in December 2010, the rate of unemployment in African Americans community nationwide is about 86 percent higher than that of Americans.
Many fear the recession will take further toll on the situation among African American communities. On this day, minds ponder if Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive, would he go on to say: To be a Negro in America is to hope against hope…We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.