Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Author: Olivia Branan
In this day and age, the headlines can no longer lie: people want change. Fifty years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most well-known social activists and civil rights leaders in American history, the impacts of his legacy continue to be visible in our everyday life. However, there is more progress to be made, which is an unfortunate but candid truth.
Every year we see that rallies are still being held in demand of basic human rights. We remain marching, angry that citizens around the country constantly fear for their lives. We demand change, yet we have not received the whole of it. Why not? Half a century ago, Americans were storming the streets, fighting for their rights and making a difference. Why must we still protest issues that were current so many years ago?
In 1963, Meet The Press aired an interview with Martin Luther King Jr., and his powerful words have carried on with us through the decades.
“We have waited now 345 years for our basic constitutional and God-given rights,” he said, “and we still confront the fact that we are at the bottom of the economic ladder.”
Flash forward 50 years, and movements such as Black Lives Matter continue to exhibit our country’s struggles against systemic racism and violence. Although we have moved forward, there will always be barriers to overcome.
March 18, 2018—Stephon Clark was murdered by law enforcement. He was shot eight times, the last five with his back to the police. The police camera footage shows officers shooting at him while he is on the ground, lying on his stomach. The police claimed that he had a gun, which turned out to be a white iPhone.
There are some who claim police brutality is false or exaggerated, but the tapes tell a different story. Moments like these have occurred far too many times. On April 29, 2017, officer Roy Oliver fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while Edwards was in a car with four other people. Oliver claimed the car was moving aggressively toward him, but police tapes later showed it was driving away. He was charged with first degree murder. While change is indeed occurring, there is so much more to accomplish.
It is true times are different now than they were 50 years ago; however, we continue to face recurring problems. Even if our thoughts and practices are evolving, there will always be another wall to climb. Children are marching in the streets, demanding that they feel safe inside their own schools.
Black Lives Matter rallies remind the entire nation that there are so many more obstacles overcome. Even though we have more steps to take, we have learned through King’s social activism and peaceful protests that taking action is fundamental to change.