Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream: an end to discrimination and racial equality for all Americans. The prominent activist’s famous 17-minute speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement, and our country has changed for the better because of its powerful impact.
Men and women who strove to improve the United States live eternally through chosen days of remembrance. These days are meant to be spent reflecting on how far we have come as a nation due to the valiant efforts of such heroes.
Instead, students tend to view Martin Luther King Day as nothing more than a day away from school. It is humiliating to think that many college-aged individuals view the day as a brief vacation rather than a day to honor Dr. King’s legacy.
There may be several reasons for this occurrence. Students no longer recognize the importance of memorial do to constant everyday worries, or it may simply be a general lack of interest.
Could it be that dwelling on segregation is no longer needed or that segregation is no longer a concern?
Thousands of young Americans took a stand against the embedded opinions of many of our ancestors back in 2008 by exercising one of their most fundamental freedoms: voting. Between 22 and 24 million young Americans ages 18 to 29 voted in 2008, resulting in an estimated youth voter turnout of between 49.3 and 54.5 percent, according to an exit poll analysis done by CIRCLE, a nonpartisan research center at Tufts University. This is an increase of 1 to 6 percentage points over the estimated youth turnout in 2004, and an increase of between 8 and 13 percentage points over the turnout in the 2000 election.
American society has drastically changed since King’s days of activism, but his dream has yet to truly be fulfilled. King’s past contribution to equality should be recognized and celebrated, but it should also serve as a reminder to everyone of present and future needs.
King did all he could to make others recognize that “all men are created equal.” Students should persist in keeping such an effort going, and there are a number of ways UAA students can do so. Partaking in an event of Civil Rights Week on campus can help with the spreading of ideas, such as tolerance and acceptance.
Anchorage and the University campus are truly a melting pot. There are a plethora of different races each with their own unique cultures sprinkled throughout the city. This abundance of cultures causes further realization of King’s impact on society.
As stated earlier, it is discouraging to think about how little recognition King receives, but in a way the younger generation is worthy of great strides toward societal improvement. It is safe to say, we keep the dream alive 365.
Simply uttering the word race at times can cause negative connotations of segregation to surface. Many youth, however, no longer see race as a factor at all, opting for a model of acceptance. Growing up in a diverse city like Anchorage results in growing into maturity in an environment of immediate exposure to people historically from all corners of the globe.
As a result, many young people view a difference in skin color as just that and nothing more.
It is impossible to state that everyone feels this way, but improvement has certainly occurred. It is change that MLK would be proud of, and UAA students can certainly take solace in that.