The State of MLK’s Dream in the Age of Trump

By Edwin Buggage

Keeping the Dream Alive
As we celebrate MLK Day this year we are also on the verge of the 50th Anniversary of his assassination, and while the dreamer died, this drum major for justice mission lives on as today we see progress in so many areas of Black life in America.

Things we would have never dreamed possible have come to pass where African-Americans occupy positions thought unobtainable 50 years ago. A culmination of this moment happened in 2008, when a nation with a history of racial exclusion elected the nation’s first African-American President Barack Obama. At this time there was talk in the U.S. as the world celebrated that King’s Dream of a Colorblind America had become a reality. There was even talk that the nation was moving in a direction of being post-racial.

King’s Dream in Trump’s America
Fast forward eight years and while there continues to be significant progress on the racial front; there’s been a backlash among a segment of the White population who feels that inclusion, equality and justice for those who were once considered vulnerable is a problem. So as some felt anxiety about social change in response as 2016 Donald Trump won the Electoral College and became the President of the United States.

Donald Trump, whose political ascendance began with him fanning the flames of racial resentment by attaching himself to the racist myth that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. as part of the birther movement, that attempted to delegitimize the country’s first African-American President. And in his first year as president he and his coterie of Whites in his top cabinet positions are seeking to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy and his “Make America Great Again” slogan may as well be “Take us back to a White America again.”

This is evidenced in how in this administration they are reshaping the courts by appointing conservative justices to lifetime appointments in the federal judiciary; something that can overturn decisions and have an adverse impact on Civil Rights gains. These include issues around environmental and criminal justice, housing, employment, affirmative action, voter rights and other things centering on the pursuit of justice and equality.

Re-Investing in the Dream
Today it is important that citizens become reinvested in fighting to keep the spirit of the dream alive. Today is a time to re-engage as not only Trump on a national level but on a state level some are trying to turn back the hands of time on the gains that’s given citizens access to equal rights. It is time for those today to fight in the spirit of those who came before them who have persevered the slights, the dogs attacking innocent children, the unfulfilled dreams and in spite of that they found a way to keep their eyes on the prize. Today this spirit must be renewed in this fight to continue to move America in the right direction.

King’s words of a colorblind society still ring true today as it did in 1963 at the March on Washington, even if today it is a far cry from a reality. But the struggle must continue as this nation’s problems with race continues, in addition to turning itself inward threatens America’s position not only nationally but its place as a beacon of hope and freedom across the globe.

And while many know King’s words as idyllic as they are, within his words he speaks of an imperfect nation trying to correct itself. This is what the dream is about people working together correcting our society so that all citizens can share in the dream. That all people regardless of their background can have a seat at the table of power and this is a day many Americans felt had arrived when it elected Barack Obama President in 2008.

But today on MLK Day in 2018, we are seeing a president who is trying to erase Obama’s legacy and a history of progress of all the great freedom fighters. This backlash of Trump and the Republicans who were obstructionist for 8 years must be met with force. Today this does not mean simply marching and protesting, it means being informed, it means voting in high numbers, it means getting an education, it means being better parents to our children, it means holding elected official accountable for how they vote on legislation. It is this that will continue to move the dream forward and make it a reality in the age of Trump.

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