Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief
As we near this year’s MLK Holiday, it is one where we see the transfer of power in our nation with the election of a new president in Joe Biden, and the historical election of the nation’s first African American woman Kamala Harris as Vice-President.
And while these are historic times in ways that many believe are bringing the nation closer now where a person can be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character; conversely we are witnessing a Civil War like atmosphere where some believe that progress for some means their version of the American Dream is under attack.
Recently, while certifying the Presidential Election, an insurrection took place at the Capitol where some Trump supporters stormed in an act of defiance one would expect in a Third World country, not the United States.
It is at this time that MLK’s Dream becomes even more important for a nation that is trying to determine which course it will take in its future as it experiments in Democracy is under attack.
The State of the Dream
“We have certainly made advances, but it is obvious that a lot more can be done. The uprisings we see that is occurring right now just illustrates just how far we have to go,” says Royce Duplessis, a Louisiana State Representative and Democrat serving District 93.
Most agree that while there’s undoubtedly been progress for African Americans that much work still needs to be done.
“What I see is definitely a dream that has been deferred. I don’t see everyone working together. I don’t see all races, colors and creeds working together and there are economic disparities and right now I do not see these issues addressed directly to heal the communities affected by these things on a daily basis,” remarks Alexis Sakari, who is an educator, artist and activist.
In a year that’s exposed the open wounds of the continued inequalities and systemic racism that continues to exist in America, there is indeed much work that must be done to make King’s Dream a reality.
A Dream Agenda
And while many remember Dr. King as one who inspired a nation and the world as a great orator, the Civil Rights Movement was attached to changing public policy that kept African Americans resigned to second class citizenship.
This point is not lost on Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League, and former Mayor of the City of New Orleans.
“In this time there are many issues that are important. Voting Rights and Criminal Justice Reform and addressing issues around health disparities, economic opportunities and access to quality education.”
Morial has had the opportunity to speak with President-Elect Joe Biden and feels optimistic that they can work together to improve the lives of African Americans and those on the margins of society.
“We have an administration coming into office that we can work with to move forward with an agenda that is more inclusive and can empower more people in the country.”
It Takes A Village to Make the Dream A Reality
Alexis Sakari, who on a daily basis gets an up-close view of the future generation as a teacher says she sees young people who are more open to embrace a society where there is more inclusion and equality. Feeling that the potential is there but realizes that all hands must be on deck to make the “Dream” a reality.
“I am hopeful that these things will be addressed, but it is not up to one person, but each individual person doing their part. For me working in the arts and being an educator, I am doing my part, but it is up to others and to everyone to do their part.”
It will take like-minded people working together for progress says State Representative Royce Duplessis.
“I think just always being on the side of right and righteousness and we’re not going to always agree, but we need people at all levels; we need elected leaders, community organizers, teachers, volunteers, we need everyone to view this community as their responsibility and that we all have a role to play and we all have a part to play in the success or failure of this community.”
Lessons in Leadership and the Next Generation
In this generation we are seeing a different breed of leaders and movements happening in America. But it is important to note that the trailblazers have already lit the torch that lights the path to a bright day and the fulfillment of the dream.
This point is emphasized by Marc Morial, who recently released a book on leadership: “The Gumbo Coalition: 10 Lessons That Help You Inspire, Unite and Achieve.”
Coming from a family dedicated to service and steeped in a history of progress as the son of the City’s First Black Mayor, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, he says, “My mother and father are my champions. They dedicated their lives to serving others and seeing much of this close up, going to NAACP, law firms or the State legislature or teacher’s union meetings. They were unselfish public servants and it inspired me to dedicate my life to helping others.”
Mia X is a legendary hip-hop artist, author, and college lecturer. She has been active in uplifting and inspiring the community over the years using her voice for positive change.
“I still believe in MLK’s dream. And I believe that the younger generation is going to make sure that we as a people live the dream. Our presence is definitely being felt and our potential power is under observation. But we are closer to his dream than we think, and we are beautiful.”