Today is the day where social media is inundated with quotes and pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. His words, his ideals, his dreams, and his sermons had a huge influence on a generation and a people who were struggling to be viewed as equals in a country that had previously enslaved them. He spoke against injustice and painted a picture of a world where everyone is equal and we all have access to the same opportunities. There has been some progress towards that goal. Signs that declare public places are for “whites only.” have gone. There are laws that make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on the color of their skin. There’s definitely still a long way to go. I live in a city that has one of the biggest MLK parades/marches (a marade) in the country. Thousands of people attend and there’s a program at the end with music and speeches and remarks. Typically this also includes some cousin or other relative of MLK who has been flown in to make some remarks about the specialness of this day. The news stations are there and try their best to get all the shots of black people standing next to white people in solidarity and unity for a common purpose. The sad truth is that we still live in a very racially motivated society in the States. Other countries have other systems that make one group of people superior to another group. Discrimination and prejudice happens everywhere–not just in America. I think that these gestures and services and speeches and sermons are great, but what are we doing the other 364 days of the world to advocate for people who can’t do it themselves? MLK did a lot for the movement. He dedicated thousands of hours of time and money to the advancement of a cause he felt was worth fighting for. However, I was reading not too long ago that he also died without a will and his family was in dire financial straits due to the fact that he had given most of his money to the cause. His wife left a promising singing career and also devoted most of her life to the work. His children also became vocal about continuing his legacy but drew enormous salaries from the center names in his honor and mishandled funds that almost bankrupted it. They sued each other for exorbitant amounts of money and publicly disagreed with each other on the best way to preserve their father’s memory. I say all this to say that there’s a need for all of us to recognize that the only way progress can happen is that we address problems on a systemic level.
I’m not much of a moviegoer but I heard so many good things about the movie, “Selma” that I decided I had to see it for myself. If you don’t like movie spoilers you should probably stop reading this now. This movie brought out a lot of emotions due to its content. My perspective was definitely influenced by the fact that I was born and raised for the majority of my childhood in Alabama. I’ve personally been to the Montgomery courthouse and grew up in a city that wasn’t very far away from Selma. It seemed like a long movie (two hours and some change). This was probably because of the content of the movie. One thing that I noticed was that there were a lot of parallels between what happened then and the recent stories of police brutality that have been all over the media. If I had a child I would want them to be at least in their pre-teens before seeing this movie. The scenes aren’t super gory but there’s something to be said about watching the movie with the knowledge that the events portrayed actually happened. One thing I appreciated was that the actors and actresses resembled the people they were portraying. Overall, it was a good movie. I didn’t have any complaints about the storyline and the directors didn’t take an inordinate amount of creative liberties with the story. I walked away from the movie with more resolve to become educated on what is happening in the political world in order to vote appropriately. After all, people were beaten and even died for that ability.