Fifty years ago, in a time where racially discriminated-against citizens were constantly faced with economic, political and social repression, a man rejuvenated a much-needed civil rights movement. He inspired thousands around the country to end racism and to bring equality and acceptance to the United States, reminding his listeners of the five words that ostensibly emulate America’s cornerstone: “All men are created equal.”
Half a century later, can we truthfully say we uphold this principle?
In some ways, yes. Though it would be ignorant to pretend that racism has ceased completely, President Barack Obama showed the world that the majority of America overcame racial predispositions – twice. Interracial couples can display their affection freely without fear of being jailed for it. And just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. promised, Americans of all colors and creeds can embark on the pursuit of happiness, free of legal segregation.
Those words, though. “All men are created equal.”
Every single day, there are thousands of people being treated as though they are inferior by others who consider themselves vastly superior. We see it in our history books, we see it on television, we see it in the news and we see it on campus. Rejection and exclusivity are plaguing us everywhere.
Whether it’s the little girl who cries to her mother that she was once again bullied by the popular girls, or the recent legislature purposefully enacted to restrict minorities’ voting rights, or the fact that same-sex couples just now won the battle for their right to marry – everywhere we look, people in power are making judgments against people they don’t even know, solely because of stereotypes and stigmas. It seems as though the vast majority of problems and incidents America – including our campus – has had over the past year happened because somebody couldn’t stand another person for being who they are.
When is it going to stop? How long can we sit idly, biding our time until someone makes the next step?
We can be that next step. And we don’t need to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to do so.
Let us stop labeling each other by race, and consider each other all equal members of the human race. Let us remember that we were all created equal, while simultaneously accepting and celebrating our differences. Let us stop judging each other based on looks or demeanor as we pass one another by. Let us take off our veil of discernment and ridicule. Let us remember that things are not always what they seem, especially when we are the ones making them seem that way.
Then, and only then, will we allow freedom to ring.