The Continuing Struggle of Racial Injustice in America
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was celebrated across America on Monday- but throughout U of M, a startling realization began to take hold. As I talked to a number of foreign students, there were quite a few who had absolutely no idea who King was, what he stood for, and why he was famous enough to warrant getting a rare day off of school. It was actually rather interesting recanting to them some of the actions he underwent against what he felt was the injustice of the fifties and sixties. The above YouTube clip brings home who the man was, leading the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in the 1950s after a black woman named Rosa Parks dared to refuse to give up her seat on a bus to a white man and subsequently got arrested.
The fascinating read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” allows the contemporary reader a vision into what King viewed was wrong with American culture. Writing from a jail in Birmingham, Alabama after his arrest in an act of civil disobedience on April 16, 1963, King believed that if something is unjust if it is “inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law” (King 5). He argued that the Southern laws of segregation were unjust because the blacks and other minority groups had no say in the matter. They were, in his belief, marginalized. He argues that the complacency of the “white moderate” – “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” – is more painful than those who are outright against the cause, because it is a passive defense of the status quo (King 6).
Through the actions of King and other civil rights leaders, one of John F. Kennedy’s final pieces of legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and since then one can reasonably posit that life is certainly better for all races since the days of Jim Crow and segregation- but the socioeconomic status of Blacks in America is still substantially less than that of Caucasians. According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, African-American average per capita income is $18,054 against $28,502 for Caucasians. This disparity is a dilemma, and we can not just sit back and allow this to occur. Racial injustice in America still occurs, and we are still quite far from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of racial equality. Let’s be like King in the Montgomery Bus Boycotts- we must call our congressmen, senators, petition on the streets, and fight to improve the lives of every man, woman, and child in this country- no one should be left to fall by the wayside.
What do you think? I’d love comments and perhaps a good debate on this issue in the Comments section.