Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (File photo)

It’s been more than 50 years since one of the most powerful and pervasive voices in history—particularly for African Americans and other people of color—was suddenly silenced by an assassin’s bullet. In the post-era of Trump and the recent second anniversary of the deadly assault on the nation’s Capital in Washington DC, one might ask, is the dream speech of hope, equality and fairness preached to millions by MLK still alive, or has it suffered an abrupt death in recent years?

For example, the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 was just one of several legacies of Dr. King that African Americans and others have embraced and utilized for decades. For example, it’s well-documented that the African American vote helped secure two terms for President Barack Obama. Contrarily, the lack of the Black vote and Russian interference ultimately led to Trump’s election in 2016. And, primarily Republican-led state legislatures continue to amend and eliminate some of the ideals and hopes that are part of the King dream—decades later. 

Besides voting rights—education has been under fire–most notably the Critical Race Theory (CRT). In its simplest definition, CRT is an intellectual and social movement by civil rights scholars and others to closely examine the good, bad, and ugly of society and law in the United States. Conservatives argue that teaching information in public classrooms and highlighting examples of the long and racist history of the U.S. is unnecessary and promotes a negative image of the country. In other words, don’t teach bad history to students; ignore it.

Critical Race Theory–then and now

by Glenn Townes 

I asked a respected educator at Rutgers University—Oscar Holmes, IV, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor at the Rutgers School of Business in Camden, if Dr. King’s dream is still alive? He writes, “King’s dream of a just and fair society for all people is one of the most ambitious and principled goals that any American has proclaimed. Although civil rights leaders like King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bayard Rustin John Lewis, and others have worked hard to secure more rights for Americans, unfortunately, more than 50 years later King’s dream of justice for all is still unrealized. By no means does this suggest that the Civil Rights Movement was a failure, but rather a testament to the difficulty of achieving that goal. With the election of Trump, America lost precious ground on the Civil Rights front and set our country back.”

Holmes got it right! Years ago, I interviewed popular novelist and Washington, DC-based motivational speaker Willie Jolley. He said something profound that has remained ingrained in my memory for the past 30 years. He said, “Glenn, a setback is a setup for a comeback.” We can hope that the setbacks implemented by Trump are indeed setups for comebacks that will keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive!

Glenn Townes

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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