Today marks 44 years since the tragic assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.
As we mourn that event yet again, and as more Americans visit the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC, we have to ask how far have we come from that day in 1968.
Certainly, the conditions for African Americans are far better today than they were in 1968, but that does not mean we can sit on our laurels.
Having a President who is African American; having other political leaders in Congress and the states and cities who are African American; seeing the growth of a large black middle class; witnessing more African Americans in the professions; witnessing more interracial marriages–all these signs of progress are wonderful!
But they are not enough, when we still have a large crime rate in the inner city ghettos; when black males are an endangered species when they end up in white neighborhoods and are seen as intruders; when one third of young black males are in prison; when the educational attainment of many African Americans still trails that of other racial groups; and when the illegitimacy rate is still much too high in African American households.
And the case of Trayvon Martin, a young black male who was no threat to anyone except for his skin color, being murdered by a man who had no right to utilize his gun; was over 100 pounds heavier; and who was told by 911 operators to leave tracking of Martin to the police, so as to ascertain if he was looking for trouble, is just the tip of the iceberg!
As long as we have tragedies such as Trayvon Martin, we are far from judging people by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin. Prejudice and discrimination still run rampant, sadly, two generations after King’s death!