Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

It's a day late, but that's no reason to pass by an opportunity to remember the man and his legacy. Dr. King brought the civil rights movement over the proverbial mountaintop thanks to his use of nonviolent techniques. His "I Have a Dream" speech transfixed a nation and provided a call that resonates today.

Of course, his work is not done. To quote another 1960s visionary, Robert F. Kennedy, "There were people who were poor and who needed help," and that remains true today. Dr. King eventually broadened his appeal to include poor people across the nation and the world, and was assassinated while planning a "Poor People's March." Like Malcolm X, Dr. King expanded his constituency across racial boundaries -- although Malcolm chose religion as a means of uniting people, while Dr. King chose income level/social class.

Social critics say that class is one of the last taboos of American society. While we obsess over wealth on TV and in the print media, we find it difficult to admit that the amount of money that someone has can be just as determining a factor of advancement as ethnicity. Does anyone really think that a child who grows up in the Mississippi Delta has the same shot at success as one raised on the Upper East Side? Rural poverty may be the greatest hardship a child faces -- his counterpart in a city will, theoretically, at least have access to resources such as better educational options.

Upon seeing the desolation of the Delta, Bobby Kennedy exclaimed that he had done "nothing" with his life before his visit. Perhaps, in seeking to aid the economically depressed across the nation, Dr. King had the right idea.


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