When one considers that it has been almost 47 years since Martin Luther King was assassinated, it is easy to understand why so many of our fellow Americans today have so little understanding of who he was and what he accomplished.
Every school child for the past generation knows well the story of Martin Luther King. But an elementary school textbook cannot truly convey the extent to which he brought about real change in our country. To anyone under the age of 50, Martin Luther King is just another historical figure. But for those of us who can recall the 1960s, a time when racial segregation prevailed throughout half of our country and overt racism throughout the other half, Martin Luther King stands as one of the great leaders in American history, a man whose stirring words and perseverance in his cause changed forever the historical trajectory of race relations in America, a subject that some historians refer to as the Original Sin of the American experience.
The new movie, Selma, depicts the struggle that Martin Luther King and his followers faced in ending segregation in the South and the immense odds that were stacked against them. We hope that many of our younger fellow citizens will see the movie to get a better understanding of what King accomplished and what conditions really were like in the early 1960s, and realize that his life truly was a profile in courage.
However, we also hope that the movie conveys the idea that as much as King accomplished in his lifetime, his work still is not done. Until we truly can say in this country that every American is judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content his character, it is up to each one of us to ensure every day that the legacy of Martin Luther King’s work continues to live on.