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Commentary: MLK Day reminds us of our past and keeps us hopeful for our future

Commentary: MLK Day reminds us of our past and keeps us hopeful for our future
January 19
11:18 2023

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Proclamations, celebrations and declarations were all part of the activities around the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. We honored and lifted high the name of this great civil rights leader.

Our America has marched and demonstrated for equal rights over the years. This call for equality has not stopped and will not stop until the shackles of injustice have been taken off.

The road to equity and fairness has been littered with potholes and pitfalls.

The King holiday which we honor each year happened because we the people made it happen. Our insistence and persistence served as catalysts for this memorable day of service. We know the mantra, “make it a day on, not a day off,” rings true as we help people and agencies in their time of need.

Dr. King was a servant leader before the term came to be. He led marches and demonstrations, yet he served the people as well.

The first King holiday was observed on January 20, 1986, and is now observed in all 50 states.

Those of us who are back-in-the-day senior citizens can see the changes in our society today. There are several areas that Dr. King and other civil rights leaders orchestrated that improved our lives as citizens. Jobs and positions of leadership now give us equal footing on the economic landscape.

In turn, we are giving others those same chances for success.

It does no good for us to covet power and authority because if we do, the people we meet on the way up, we will trip over when we fall back down.

Our political savvy is probably the best that it has ever been. Men and women of color at all levels of government are showing their ability to lead and to create policies that are sustainable and measurable. Life for us overall has substantially improved as we have gained more clout and more awareness about what we must do to get ahead.

We own more now than ever before, from businesses to homes, yet we cannot stop now. Reports say that the homeownership rate for African Americans is between 42% and 45%.

While we have made progress in some areas, we have challenges in other areas. Education is an attainable goal for all of us, so we must pursue it. I have long been an advocate for education and training. Without it, our capacity to earn is limited.

Voting must stay on our high priority list as it gives us a voice in how our government is run and who the elected officials will be. Be mindful that there are those out there who would like to stifle and stop us from voting, so we must be steadfast and unshakeable when it comes to our right to vote. Dr. King understood that it would be a powerful tool in our quest for rights and privileges.

Let us continue to do more each day to encourage people to register and to vote. It is not enough just to register to vote, we must go to the polls and vote in all elections.

At the start of this new year with the King holiday behind us, we must pledge to treat one another better. Our children and grandchildren watch the way we treat each other and talk to each other as we are role models for them daily.

Let us celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of non-violence and empowerment throughout the year.

He said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advances roll in on the wheels of inevitability. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle.”

This column is dedicated to our grandchildren, AJ and Makoy, who represent the future of this country.

 

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at overtimefergie.2020@nullyahoo.com.



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