The third Monday of January each year is designated as MLK day in countries who have set aside a day to recognize and remember Dr. Martin Luther King in high regards. His legacy is honored this way, him being a revered activist of social change and opening the doors for many thought provoking conversations in the midst of racial strife and social injustice. The year 2018 will mark 50 years since MLK’s assassination prompting a reflection on the social change since his time.
It is recognizable to see that as a growing community, the general population has made strides towards social equality among all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, among other identities. Times of boycotts and walk-ins of peaceful protest against prejudice have passed, leaving behind an example of a well-organized defense for the sake of progress. It makes us ask though, with all the examples we have of the terrible nature of hate, how far we have actually come today and where we are headed on the front of equality for all.
Coming from a place during Kings’ time, we have made large and obvious improvements in the wake of injustice especially on the platform of race. Martin Luther King pushed for the acceptance of all people moving towards a radical change in the United States in the mid 1950’s. This, however, continues to be an ongoing issue and debate amongst communities, invoking a realization that the fight for equality is still much alive. Movements such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ go to show that inequality still runs amidst our communities and though it is not at the level it once was, it is important for the ones who still fight for acceptance, almost 60 years after the Civil Rights Movement.
This, though, is just the tip of the iceberg when addressing the change needing to be acknowledged within our social systems if we wish to truly embrace acceptance. The fight for equality among all people is not limited only to the race movement or women’s rights movement. People are faced with issues such as sexual orientation, debates on beliefs and ideologies, and the rights for what we can and cannot do to our own bodies, things that have not been considered on a public level before. Only recently have subjects such as gay-marriage been introduced and debated in the court of law; they are recently up for debate in countries such as Australia, which just passed the bill for legalization last month affecting thousands of couples. We are faced with the challenge of dealing with these issues and deciding on what scale we will choose to view equality for all in the next coming years.
Assuming that most people and human beings come with their own beliefs and thoughts makes the possibility of total acceptance of all differences nearly impossible. This in no way, though, means that we should stop striving to accept those who believe, look, or act differently than one another or the general population and deplete the progress we have made. We as a society still have much to learn and consider as we move into new issues and open to conversations regarding such. What we can take away from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the remainder of this holiday is to see that while we have made vast improvements, we still have room to continue the fight for social equality among all and to reflect on the ways in which we can further the progress and participate in tough conversations in the wake of social equality.
We can not guarantee acceptance will be embraced by all, but what we can do however, is to work towards a goal of this acceptance, and adopt King’s belief that persistence in the face of strife and peaceful demonstration of opposing views will aid in our constant progress from where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started not that many years ago.