On Monday we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am a fan of Dr. King. His public life and work in the Civil Rights Movement are inspirational. Dr. King epitomized the greatness of our country. He recognized the horrific injustice in race relations during his time and took a stand in an attempt to bring about equality black and white. I cannot help but wonder what position Dr. King would take on the things happening in America today.
“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. This is my favorite quote from Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Measurement over time is critical to evaluating the success of any movement. Has our society made any progress in moving from judgment of skin color to character content?
South Carolina has elected its first black senator with the election of Tim Scott last November. Utahans elected Mia Love, the first black Republican woman to serve in the House of Representatives. Clarence Thomas serves as the first black Supreme Court justice. Barack Obama has been elected president twice, Eric Holder is the Attorney General, and Loretta Lynch is set to succeed him. It seems reasonable to infer that we have come a long way since Dr. King in the fifties and sixties.
We live in a day in which affirmative action seems to be the go to policy when an institution is not diverse enough. Corporations and universities are hiring chief diversity officers to ensure minorities are made feel as welcome as majorities. If the ratio of black to white students is disproportionate, the university or corporation is said to be failing. Why is this? We have degraded diversity by forcing it to be superficial. True diversity comes from life experiences and worldviews, not skin color.
It is horrendous to think about the number of black Americans who have been deprived of opportunity solely because of their skin color. This should not occur in our nation, but the sad reality is that it has, and to some extent it continues to. Dr. King’s efforts are undermined when we corrupt the content of one’s character with judgments on skin color.
We should have diversity in our country, not for diversity’s sake, but out of a pure desire to make ourselves more well rounded and respectful of one another. We are all different. Success in our society will be measured by the extent to which we are able to accept differences and judge one another based simply on merit. Dr. King’s dream can certainly be reality, but it is up to us to ensure his efforts were not in vain.