In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “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.”
Every year, we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday as a reminder of his legacy and what it stands for. Yet, despite the progress this nation has made since the days of his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, we are still far from achieving the dream he had for America.
Despite decades of progress, People Of Color (POC) continue to face systemic racism in our country today. From unequal access to education and healthcare to being disproportionately affected by poverty and violence, POC are still fighting for fair treatment under the law, and basic human rights many White Americans take for granted every day.
I can't help but sigh at the disproportionate bias and inequality existing in our society. Greater effort must be taken to recognize and protect all groups, not just some. This is why it is so important that we recognize MLK Day—not just as an opportunity to honor his memory, but also as a call to action to work toward achieving his dream of equality and justice for all people in America.
As citizens of this nation, it is up to us to act if we truly want to realize Dr. King’s dream someday. This means educating ourselves on issues affecting POC in our communities and pushing local and national elected officials to make meaningful policy changes that address these issues head-on.
In addition, it means working together with other members of our community to combat racism wherever it exists—whether through protest or peaceful demonstration or simply leading by example through our day-to-day behavior towards others who may look different than us or come from different backgrounds than us.
As citizens, let us remember that no matter how much progress has been made since MLK Day was first recognized in 1983, there is still much more work to be done if we want Dr. King’s dream for America one day to become a reality. By acting on behalf of those whose voices are often unheard -- and doing whatever we can locally or nationally to help fight injustice wherever it exists -- we can honor Dr. King’s legacy while also making sure his dream lives on.
Legislators have an obligation to be fair and objective when developing laws. People of color should not be given a lesser priority within the legal system – our voices must be heard and given due consideration.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case: legislation often ignores POC's unique struggles and caters heavily to other social classes. It's an issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later to bring about long-term improvement. I'm tired of watching racism manifest in tangible ways through careless legislative efforts – it's time we all worked to ensure everyone receives a fair shake, no matter their race or ethnicity.
Dr. Pam Gurley is an accomplished author, CEO, podcaster, professor, professional speaker and businesswoman. Her ultimate objective: Work every day to change how Black women are perceived.
Listen to Dr. Pam as she is interviewed by Bob Gatty on the Lean to the Left Podcast, now streaming.