Skip to main content

Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

man in front of microphones speaking to a crowd

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Not a Moment, But Rather the Continuation of the Movement

Dear Wentworth Community,

Not a Moment, But Rather the Continuation of the Movement

This year, 2021, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 92 years old. When we celebrate birthdays, particularly of significant contributors to our nation, there is a great deal of reminiscing as well as discussion of hopes of experiences still to occur. If we were to reminisce with Dr. King, I am sure he would reflect on the fact that he gave over 450 speeches in any given year and yet most people can only name one - “I Have a Dream”. Some may also name “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” which was not a speech at all, but rather an open letter. Same could be said for the countless marches led by Dr. King for civil rights, denouncing poverty, and against the Vietnam war. Perhaps Dr. King would be shocked that some of the rights he fought for in the 1950s and 1960s are still unattained today. He spoke about the necessity of voting rights for all people and the need to eliminate police brutality, issues that are still prevalent in our country today. However, I don’t think Dr. King would be shocked. Disappointed perhaps, and definitely saddened, but not shocked. As he pointed out in 1967, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a weaker civil rights bill of the previously enacted and unenforced Civil Rights Law of 1875.

There is great irony in people remembering Dr. King with the “I Have a Dream” speech because that was not actually the title of the speech. While this is how it is known, a deeper dive reveals the speech was titled “Normalcy, Never Again.” The irony continues from the recollection of the name of the speech to how people believe the reality of the dream would appear. In this speech, Dr. King shared his vision for a world where his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. People often use this speech given in 1963 as an example of Dr. King dreaming of a colorblind world: the way to equality is by seeing everyone as the same. This, however, is not what Dr. King fought for, marched for, or was killed for, and there is no greater evidence of this than in a later speech titled “Other America,” a speech given a few times in 1967. Dr. King knew ignoring or not seeing one’s color would not solve the problems of discrimination and inequality. In studying the history of America, he saw numerous examples of color being the very reason for many acts of violence perpetrated against people and laws written specifically referencing skin color. He reflected in “Other America” that people were willing to come to the south to protest and march in Selma or Montgomery, but did not protest acts of discrimination that may have been less violent or egregious in their own city or state. This prompted Dr. King to declare that Genuine Equality is the goal not just “outrage against extremist behavior towards Negroes.” While Dr. King gave examples of how to reach genuine equality, somehow many have lost sight of this goal.

In our present times, we might commit to listening, conversing about and perhaps even learning the “Other America” speech where Dr. King emphasizes the unequivocal necessity for action. Genuine equality will not happen by inaction, nor will it happen without intentional and consistent action. Dr. King shares that “time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively.” How have we used our time individually and collectively? Have we continually taken action to move America to a place of genuine equality for all her citizens? History shows us time and again sitting back and hoping a problem goes away or that change will occur is not a formula for reaching our goals.

If you do not listen, you cannot hear.

If your eyes are closed, you cannot see.

You cannot change, what you do not see or acknowledge.

Racism and white supremacy are alive and spreading. The only chance we have to eliminate racism and white supremacy with the goal of achieving genuine equality is through action. Action means more than just not doing something, action requires movement. To be clear, silence and indifference are actions, however, these actions are weapons against genuine equality. Will you join the movement for genuine equality? Participation in the movement comes in many forms and at Wentworth, inclusive excellence manifests as our action towards genuine equality. Inclusive excellence challenges us to actively and intentionally cultivate our community to be a place each member has the opportunity and support to reach their full potential, said another way, when there is genuine equality everyone can thrive and contribute here at Wentworth and beyond. Genuine equality requires a deeper dive beyond the surface of treating each individual fairly. We must examine the systems that have created the space for racism, sexism, xenophobia, classism, and other isms and phobias to live. Join me with in this movement for genuine equality with an active and “hands on” commitment to inclusive excellence.

Nicole G. Price, Esq.
Vice-President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion