This image is of the great activist and humanitarian Martin Luther King Jr. and his young son removing a burned cross from their front lawn. The act of cross burning was meant as a scare tactic to King, his family, and supporters– a warning against opposing the norms of a society that wanted to keep people of color as a segregated and socially, economically, and politically disadvantaged class simply because of their skin color.
I want this image to be engraved in your memory. Whenever you think that issues with equality in America are only recent with the #BlackLivesMatter, the actual coverage in place of dismissal of police brutality against people of color, and the rise of exposure of exploitation of blackness. America has a history of prejudice and of hatred towards people of color and of general deviance from the dominant white norm. This image is from 1960, only 55 years ago, and still blacks remain a race that is downcast and disadvantaged in society as compared to the dominant white class. There are still murders, lynchings, slanders and socioeconomic barriers for a black life to match a proper standard of living. Remember that young, innocent children today just like King’s son are exposed to such hatred and despair.
Remember that King and others like him, didn’t fight for the superiority of blacks but rather for the equal treatment of human beings. Remember that King didn’t die for his cause– he was assassinated as many that demand justice still are today. Remember he is not simply a figure that helped spread awareness and promote change. He was a father, a son, a husband and was beloved by his family, friends, followers, and those who shared his ideals. Just like us. He had to explain to his son why such a display of violence was on their lawn. He had to explain to his daughter why she couldn’t go to the amusement park that wasn’t available for colored people. His life isn’t a holiday you get off from school or something you did a report on in 6th grade. His life and death represent the consequences of simply demanding the equality that is stated in the nation’s doctrine. Even though 55 years have passed, racial tensions still are very much alive and have yet to be fully addressed. So when a post comes your way saying how yet another black person dies or faces dire consequences at the hands of racial injustice, don’t just scroll and shake your head at what a shame it all is. Proclaim it. Remember their names. Remember they were human lives. Don’t let the world forget that they existed and loved and breathed and deserved to live just as much as you do.
Create a world where all men and women are truly created equal.
Mary Louise Mora. 07.