Dont Sleep Through the Revolution
by Jose J. Soto, J.D.
As we prepare to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I take this opportunity to share with you portions of a sermon he delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on March 31st 1968. Dr. Kings thoughts and concerns are as valid today as they were thirty-three ago.
Dr. King reminded us on that occasion of the often-overlooked social reality embedded in the story of "Rip Van Winkle." When Rip Van Winkle went up into the mountain, a sign had a picture of King George the Third of England. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington. Things were different all right -- in effect, Rip had slept through a revolution. He slept through changes that altered the course of history. Dr. Kings point:
The revolution today is more of an evolution in technology, demography, and society. Nonetheless, the challenges are as demanding as if it were a revolution. Dr. Kings own words best capture the demands of the day in our communities, this nation and the world:
A reality is that science and technology have compressed time, space and distance to create a global village. However, the village seems to be one of strangers, not of neighbors. A village of individual interests, not of collective concern. On these points, Dr. Kings admonishment in 1968 is just as applicable today:
Dr. King further reminds us of our inter-dependence when he states that we must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
Dr. Kings message is quite clear in these regards, while we all are not the targets of hate, discrimination and bigotry based on race, color and ethnicity, we are all the victims of these social ills.
Dr. King also reminded those gathered in 1968 of the challenge to eradicate the last vestiges of racial injustice from our nation. He stated:
Progress in race relations cannot be left to the goodwill and effort of others. It is a responsibility that falls squarely on the shoulders of every member of our organizations and communities. The mere passage of time will not excise the evils of racism and discrimination. Active efforts must continue in the present and we must be deliberate in our planning to address these concerns in the future. Our children and grandchildren deserve a better inheritance than trite platitudes denouncing racism and symbolic efforts toward its eradication.
On this point, Dr. Kings words are instructive:
Dr. King realized in his day, many of us today acknowledge, and many more must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.
In the closing of his sermon, Dr. King reminded us that there comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of goodwill to come with a massive act of conscience and say that racism is wrong, eradicating it is right. Discrimination is wrong, eliminating it is right. Racial injustice is wrong, fundamental fairness for all is right.
These are some of the challenges Dr. King reminded those gathered in Washington D.C. in 1968; these are the challenges that we are faced with in the year 2000, and beyond. These are important and critical matters that must be faced and resolved. As we face these challenges I am hopeful Dr. Kings words will serve to motivate us:
Jose J. Soto, J.D. is Vice President for AA/Equity/Diversity Southeast Community College Area, Lincoln, Nebrask
|Published in In Motion Magazine December 2, 2000.
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