Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As I was perusing my blog for earlier posts, I ran across this one I wrote five years ago.
Truth be told, not much has happened in the interim, except the country has elected a black president, not once but twice. For some – and certainly those challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act – that signifies that racism is dead in America. I don’t think that is true. If anything, the election of President Barack Obama has heightened racism in our country – or, at least, pulled back the covers and exposed it for all to see.
Five years ago, I didn’t think it possible for Obama to win. I really thought he would suffer the same fate that November that Harold Ford, Jr. had suffered just two years earlier. Obama managed to avoid that, by being a post-racial candidate, to the chagrin of black folks who thought we were getting one of our own in office. Black folks are mostly quiet about this – disappointed, yes, but quiet. In the meantime, racism-tinged or outright racist posts and pictures still appear on Facebook and on Twitter.
For me, this increase in overt racism is a concern, and I doubt I’m alone in having a heightened sense of it. I wasn’t raised nor have I spent my adulthood thinking that every little thing is about race. The last few years, though, have me questioning that, as it seems so many things are about race.
The men and women of Dr. King’s generation – my parents among them – knew what racism looked like. It was their world. All these years later, you’d think things would have progressed further. Five years ago I wrote this:
Four days before his assassination, Dr. King gave a sermon that resonates with me to this day. Forty years ago, Dr. King advised us on Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution:
… one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.
I fear that many are still sleeping.