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Martin Luther King, Essay Example

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Essay

In celebrating the completion of the Martin Luther King monument, many observers wonder if his “dream”, as enunciated in 1963, has truly been fulfilled. It might be prudent, however, to take a step back and understand his dream in two different contexts.  First, King was undoubtedly talking about achieving racial equality in a land torn by racism and partisan strife; his was particularly focused on removing racist laws that discriminated against African-Americans achieving equality in numerous spheres.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, King’s dream also was an indictment of a corrupted society: King saw America on a downward trajectory, a mixed Babylon of corruption and materialism of which racial inequity was only one manifestation of a more acute condition.  While progress has been made toward both dreams, neither has been fully accomplished in the present day. In spite of this, the monument is a good idea to help America remember King’s critique of the country’s ills.

In response to the first issue, African-Americans have undoubtedly progressed in several key aspects: In addition to obtaining the right to vote, African Americans also benefit from increased educational opportunities and general legal equity (Editorial, August, 24, 2011).  Indeed, the number of African-Americans going to college has vastly increased from the 1960s- however, the graduation rate of African Americans (now roughly at 40%) has lagged considerably (Spence, September 25, 2005). This shows that while more doors may be open to African Americans, greater efforts should be made to ensure opportunities are captured.  In other areas, there is also major room for improvement.

For example, egregious cases of police brutality have continued to litter the news in spite of advances in other areas.  There is also a disproportionate representation of African-American criminals on death row: For example, while African Americans made up only roughly 15% of the U.S. population, they accounted for roughly 43% of the inmates on death row in 1999 (Spence, November 28, 2005). Thus, although progress has been made in certain areas, there is still much more to be made.

In response to the second issue, the basic trajectory of America is inevitably worse than that of even the turbulent 1960s.  While the financial crisis accelerated the feeling of malaise in the United States, the country seems to be in a spiritual rut, having lost its moorings and raison d’état.  King’s larger dream was to rid America of the rampant consumer culture that gradually eroded the spiritual climate of the country. This aspect of King’s dream is much further on the horizon that even the first component.

In spite of not yet achieving King’s dream, however, the monument is undoubtedly a good idea: A pensive and fiery King overlooking America’s desultory capitol may serve as an apt reminder that the real creator of the American dream is still observing the country’s progress.

Works Cited:

Editorial.  (August 24, 2011).  Our View: King’s dream yields progress, unfinished business.  USA  Today, Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/story/2011-08-24/Our-view-Kings-dream-yields-progress-unfinished-business/50127848/1.

Spence, L. (November 28, 2005).  Black fraternity looks to boost graduation rates.  NPR.  Available at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5029173.

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