Some of my favorite inspirational leaders I like to read their works from time to time include Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, and my all-time favorite two: Marcus Garvey and MLK. On this MLK Day, it’s always a good idea to take stock as to where we are in the pursuits of the dreams and ideals advocated by these leaders.
My suspicion is that from their vantage point, those leaders above may be pleased with what they’re seeing. So we have a Black Man as President of the United States – pretty cool stuff. I’ll never forget seeing people weep openly, both at upon his election and during his 2009 inauguration. Now, I made the following comment to a friend recently and got hammered for it. For all the ability and grace Mr. Obama has shown to galvanize the poor and middle class (to some degree), he has left the rich people out of the party in his quest to bring back a unified America and move things forward. Yes, the political climate is a lot more complicated and unfortunately, his ethnicity and the ethnicity of his opponents still plays a role. But, the fact that we even have one in the Oval Office, was reelected, and can debate his effectiveness more so based on his credentials than simply his skin color is still an amazing achievement.
There are now minorities in other places of high office too. In NYC, there is now a Latina City Council Speaker; few year ago a Latina Supreme Court Justice was elected as well. One looks around at the changing landscape with gay rights getting to the point where more states are offering the opportunity for gay marriage. In the film industry, 2013 was a banner year for African-Americans in lead roles, and in powerful films nonetheless. “12 Years a Slave”,” 42”, and “The Butler” led the way in a string of noteworthy films with prominent African-American actors and actresses delivering noteworthy performances. Even in the music genre, 2 groups in a prominently televised Acapella only competition – 1 Filipino teen males, 1 African-American coed gospel singers– placed 4th and 2nd respectively. And that’s just a sample of all the amazing achievements on behalf of equality that happened within the past calendar year.
Yes, there is a lot more change happening here in the US, and globally in many ways. But there is still much work to be done. For example, the ongoing situation in Russia about gay rights is absolutely a shame. Here in the US, still no paid maternity leave for women – one of 4 countries globally not to offer that right. Women in the US still make only 75 cents of every $1 to men doing the same work in many industries. Many causes and sources for injustice still occurred; racism and inequality are still rampant – in some places more entrenched than before. Some of our communities still battle unemployment, high crime rates, chronic chemical dependency, and homelessness plague minorities in many areas.
But, we are making progress, and I would like to think that those leaders, especially MLK, knew that change was a long haul thing. I suppose just as how Rome wasn’t built in a day, we cannot expect change to happen completely overnight. I’m hopeful that MLK’s dream will come true. I won’t lie and say selfishly I’d like to see it happen on my watch, but as long as we all continue to pull together, it has a good chance of becoming a reality in the years ahead.