Guest Commentary

Will justice ever be a reality? Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tashia Richards is president of the National Black United Front - Kansas City
Tashia Richards is president of the National Black United Front - Kansas City

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MLK Day 2019

This year marks the 33rd national observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. Monday would be his 90th birthday.

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January 15, 2019 would have marked the 90th birth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Had he not been assassinated, he may have very well still been around to experience life after his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”

If so, would Dr. King have approved of the progress that this country has made thus far?

The sad reality is that a little over half a century later we have not progressed very far. Black men, women and children are still being targeted and killed by trigger-happy police. History since his death has remained riddled with Black bodies who have suffered under the “unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

Courtrooms remain filled with racist and white supremacist handing out maximum sentences for unbefitting crimes just because of the color of the accused. The political constructs still encourage and engage in practices to keep African descendants oppressed.

We live in a country where White terrorism is higher than any other hate crime, but yet the system continues to deflect on Black-on-Black crime instead of addressing the cause for why Black people are reacting aggressively in the first place. America, time after time has continued to default on the promissory note of the guarantee (to African people) of unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It however, sustains itself on the perpetual oppression that it dresses up and dishes out in the form of educational and correctional institutions.

As we remember Dr. King, we must also remember those who paid the price and paved the way for him to stand before this nation and plead for Freedom. A freedom in which this country has been denying African people, ever since the first recorded enslaved African was marched into Jamestown in 1619 in bondage. Those Africans too had a dream, similar to Dr. King’s Dream; they had to begin to dream of a day when they too would be free.

Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech we have to ask ourselves, “Will justice ever be a reality for all of God’s children? More specific, “Will justice ever be a reality for African Americans and their children?” Until this country can answer this question with concrete and consistent actions and not idle words, broken promises by representatives masquerading with avaricious intentions, and expropriating systems, we must consider removing ourselves from the sideline and seizing freedom ourselves.

We must not be silent on matters of injustice to our people. It is essential that we stand up and position ourselves to have the voice, coupled with the actions to make real change for our struggling communities. Its time out for idly sitting by while our children are still being stripped of their adulthood and robed of their dignity due to the poor education systems and inequitable laws. It is necessary that this country understands that together, organized, willing and ready we will take the freedom that is due to us.

Fifty one years is too long to still talk of dreams. Reflection time is over and we must make those dreams reality. Dr. King gave us the inspiration and now it is time for us to act on it.

Tashia Richards is president of the National Black United Front — Kansas City.